UPDATE (6/11) The Laramie Film Society has announced via Facebook that the Ghostbusters fundraiser scheduled for the 15th has been cancelled. 


Film studios are phasing out 35 mm prints of films, which is leaving several smaller movie theaters struggling to catch up with the modern digital age.  Laramie's Wyo Theater is no exception.  In reaction, the Laramie Film Society is launching a fundraising effort for a needed digital upgrade.

"We have a 35 mm projector with a three platter system," says James Mclaughlin theater manager for the Wyo.  "Most film companies are no longer producing 35 mm prints of their movies.  We've been told by [one film studio] that we are not allowed to show any of their movies without a digital projector."

Movies, for years, have been printed and shown on reels of 35 mm celluloid.  Much like the film from a still camera (which in and of itself is becoming a thing of the past), the celluloid

A 35 mm print of Oz the Great and Powerful is spooled on a projector platter at the Wyo Theater. (Trevor T. Trujillo, Townsquare Media)

is built into long strips that, when spooled, can sometimes reach as large as three-feet across.  The film is then fed into a projector, where the images fly past a bright xenon bulb at a rate of 24 frames a second.  A lens then throws the image onto the screen in front of an audience.  This is how theatrical movies have been watched for decades.

Lately, however, digital projectors are becoming the norm.  There is no physical copy of the film, a digital file of the movie is simply uploaded to a hard drive and projected on the screen.  In order to stay up with the times, and stay in business, the Wyo Theater will have to update to the newer digital projector.  Estimated cost for the upgrade is $45,000.

"I've read articles which indicate that there may be as many as 1,000 theaters going out of business this year because of this change," says Robert Roten with the Laramie Film Society.  "We're trying to raise money for a digital projection system so the Wyo can stay in business."

The Laramie Film Society will kick off fundraising efforts on June 15th, with the "Save the Wyo: Ghostbusters Block Party."  The Film Society, in cooperation with the Ruffed Up Duck Saloon, will be hosting an outdoor party with a barbecue, costume contest, trivia, face painting, a costume contest, live music by Whiskey Slaps and a screening of the popular 1984 film Ghostbusters.

Trevor T. Trujillo, Townsquare Media

The event will also serve as the launch for a kickstarter.com fundraising effort for the digital upgrade.  "We're going to try and raise half of the money on Kickstarter," says Roten.  Kickstarter is a crowd-sourced fundraising webpage where other theaters have found success in digital upgrades, "For instance the Lyric Cinema Cafe in Ft. Collins, the Kress Cinema Cafe in Greeley.  They both successfully raised all the money they needed for their digital projector projects.  So we're hoping we're as successful as they were."

Roten goes on to say that they hope to raise approximately $25,000 through the Kickstarter campaign and an additional $20,000 through local fundraising efforts.

Wyo Manager Mclaughlin says that he understands the need for an upgrade, but also says it's a bittersweet transition.  "You watch a movie on 35, every showing is going to be different," he says.  "It might be something you never notice.  Tonight, we're showing Oz the Great and Powerful.  Tonight's showing will be different from the previous night's showing.  Something about the film print will change.  There might be a speck of dust in a new place or a slight scratch someplace else.  It's just a different living, breathing thing every time you watch it."  With that in mind, Mclaughlin says that the digital projector will allow the theater to move forward and offer perhaps more programming options including showing live events, 3D films, and movies that might not otherwise be available to a 35 mm house.

The Save the Wyo Ghostbusters Block Party is scheduled for 12:00 pm until 5:30 pm on June 15th.  The cost is $6 for the outdoor festivities, $6 for the movie or $10 for both.  The screening of Ghostbusters is scheduled for 2:30 pm.