Highlands Cinemas goes digital 0
Owner Keith Stata at Highlands Cinema in Kinmount. QMI Agency Files
Kinmount’s Highlands Cinemas is staying open and going digital.
Owner Keith Stata, who has been musing about the future of the theatre, announced this week he will convert four of its five screens to digital.
It seems that loyal moviegoers had a lot to do with the decision.
“There’s been a huge amount of input from the public, we’ve been getting emails every day and people saying, “Are you going to close? What are you going to do?”
Stata read one email that had a particular effect on him.
“We got one funny one the other day. It simply said, ‘You can’t close. You’re an institution and you’re the last cinema in the Highlands. You can’t close.”
Independent theatres in Fenelon Falls, Minden and Haliburton have all closed.
With a price tag of approximately $300,000, the conversion won’t be cheap and Stata said he will be remortgaging the building and his business partner his home.
Stata was able to obtain a $50,000 federal development grant and also received some donations from the public.
Renovations will take place during the winter and the installation of the technology in March. The theatre will open May 3 as always.
The original No. 1 theatre will be closed, although Stata said if things go well or more grant money is obtained, it may be converted in the future.
Highlands Cinema had a good summer, with revenues up about $50,000. Stata attributed much of this to ticket prices that were increased by a dollar.
Tickets this year were $9 for adults, $7 dollars for seniors and $6 for the matinée.
Stata said there may be another increase in ticket prices and he will be employing new money-making methods such as an electronic fortune teller and other gimmicks.
He’s also considering selling some of his extensive poster collection.
“We really need the people to support us now that we’ve decided to this,” Stata said, adding that people may not realize what a bite out of business they’re taking by sneaking food into the theatre. “We make money on the concession, we don’t make it on the ticket.”
Stata opened the theatre, which also includes a museum featuring an extensive collection of theatre equipment and movie memorabilia in 1979.
“Really, I suppose in a way, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if we closed,” he said.