GROVE CITY, PA.
Grove City College students have been enjoying movies at the Guthrie Theatre since the downtown showplace opened in 1927 and, thanks in part to an agreement between the college and the theater, they’ll be able to keep seeing first-run films on the big screen without leaving town.
Theater owner Eric Thomas touted the agreement in a press release announcing that the Guthrie had bought and installed a Sony 4K digital projector. The projector, the first of its kind in a theater in Pennsylvania, was ready to go for the Nov. 20 debut of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” at the movie theater on South Broad Street in Grove City.
Buying a digital projector was essential for the Guthrie’s survival. Studios have cut back on producing 35 mm prints of movies that could be shown on the Guthrie’s old equipment, and next year that slim supply of prints is expected to evaporate as the film industry makes the transition to digital complete and stops distributing 35 mm movies.
Facing that deadline and an upgrade cost somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000, the Guthrie started fundraising a year ago. Through the “Seat Backs for Greenbacks” promotion, which gave donors naming rights to seats in the historic theater, and other promotions, the Guthrie was able to raise about $30,000.
Recognizing the value of the Guthrie — known as “The Queen of Broad Street” — to both the borough of Grove City and its own students, Grove City College decided to make an investment that allowed the theater to go forward with the projector purchase.
The college is providing the Guthrie with $30,000 over two years as part of a marketing agreement. The theater will provide the college with movie passes to distribute to the campus community, show a trailer highlighting Grove City College before each screening and allow the college to use the theater periodically to show student-made films and have meetings.
“The college thought it was important to help the Guthrie remain open,” Mary G. DelBuono, director of Marketing and Communications at the college said. “The theater is an anchor in downtown Grove City and an important community resource. It also provides our students with an entertainment outlet that many college towns lack and, now, a way to satisfy some of our marketing needs.”
Thomas said he’s grateful for the community’s help keeping the Guthrie in business.
“The Guthrie has been given a new lease on life, thanks to all those who have contributed to the digital projector fund,” Thomas said.
Fundraising for other improvements to the theater, including a new screen to match the projector’s capabilities, will continue, Thomas said.