Rowland Theatre to show off new digital projection system with free movie

The Rowland Theatre will open its doors Sunday to give moviegoers a chance to get a free glimpse of the new digital projection system.

The family classic “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” will be screened at 3 p.m. The Steven Spielberg blockbuster is a gift from the nonprofit theater’s board members to the community in thanks for support as they continue to raise money to pay back the loans that made the conversion possible.

“Without the generous support of the community, we would need to close the doors,” said Rowland Theatre Inc. board member Christine Wilson.

The conversion was necessary because the industry will shortly stop making traditional film reels and only produce digital copies that are easier to manufacture and transport. Many other small theaters are facing the same threat, including nearby Super 322 Drive-In near Bigler and the Ritz in Clearfield. The conversion cost more than $73,000. The board received a mix of funding that allowed the theater to get the work done now, in time for the show to go on, but much of the funding is in the form of low-interest loans from the United States Department of Agriculture that will need to be repaid.

“Our fundraising efforts will be continual, as there are many projects planned,” Wilson said. “In addition to fundraising activities to help with these payments, we also want to restore/replace the marquee and there are many repairs needed to the stage in order to host live performances. We also need to raise funds for our day-to-day operating expenses: heat, electricity, insurance, payroll and various other repairs to the theater.”

There has been a good response to the project. Murarik Motor Sports donated funds from its annual haunted house to the efforts, and Mo-Valley Paranormal held tours and donated fees. Hi Way Pizza donated a percentage of some sales to raise money, and more fundraising is planned. However, the single best way to find the money is also the most obvious.

“What we really need for the theater to succeed is for lots of people to come to the movies,” said Wilson. “We really just want people to come in.”