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'Keep Indie Visible' Campaign Launches To Help Keep Art House Cinemas Alive

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood October 10, 2012 at 12:25PM

The "Keep Indie Visible" program is launching a new campaign to help independent theaters successfully transition to (read: survive) the industry-wide move to digital projection. By the end of 2013, Hollywood will only distribute films in specific digital formats -- but the staggering cost for state-of-the-art digital projectors...
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Crystal Theatre marquee in Carbondale, Colorado
Crystal Theatre marquee in Carbondale, Colorado

The "Keep Indie Visible" program is launching a new campaign to help independent theaters successfully transition to (read: survive) the industry-wide move to digital projection. By the end of 2013, Hollywood will only distribute films in specific digital formats -- but the staggering cost for state-of-the-art digital projectors (from $65K to $100K) is enough to sink many independent and arthouse cinemas.

"Keep Indie Visible" is creating a nationwide, hybrid funding model that consists of private equity and crowdfunding, and allows moviegoers to support the financing of digital equipment for their local independent theaters. The funding will also go toward indie filmmakers facing steep costs of theatrical distribution for their work, also having to comply with the new projection standards. It's essentially operating as a Kickstarter for those facing an adapt-or-die situation in the digital transition.

The KIV team is first focusing on 50 theaters across 50 states; The Screen in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale, Colorado and the Art Theatre in Hobart, Indiana have all joined the cause. To augment the private equity funding base, supporters can go here to pitch in for the crowdfunding.

Projects like this are essential for the preservation of art-house cinemas that give U.S. cities such distinctive cultural flavor, and screen films (classic, foreign, indie, obscure) that are almost never seen in commercial theaters. It also shows an admirable embrace of the transition to digital, as opposed to the trendier but near-sighted pitting of digital against 35mm. Remember: the theaters receiving this funding will still keep 35mm projectors, and remain committed to screening gorgeous prints when they can. Projects like KIV help to give small cinemas more options, so that they can screen a wide variety of beautiful formats, be it a stunning DCP or a pristine 35mm print.

This article is related to: News, Digital Future


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.