NORWICH – The marquee of the Colonia Theatre has been a glowing icon in downtown Norwich for decades, but now, facing imminent changes in the movie industry and the financial restraints to keep pace, the small theater announced a last showing on Oct. 18 before finally closing its doors on Oct. 19.
A recent push by movie distributors is requiring that cinemas across the country upgrade their equipment to play digital copies of movies. Digital copies make it easier to monitor when movies are played and they’re produced at a fraction of the cost, explained Jeanie Barnes, general manager at the Colonia Theatre. But the necessary equipment to play digital movies comes with a staggering price tag of $75,000 per screen. To upgrade both screens at the Colonia (which would include a new projection system, as well as computers and sound equipment) would amount to a substantial $150,000, which is well beyond the small theater’s financial capabilities, she said.
“In August, we noticed that there was a substantial increase in the time it took us to get a movie after it was first released,” Barnes wrote in an official statement this week. “The movie distributors had decided to reduce the number of 35 (millimeter) copies to a fraction of what were previously made, in favor of digital copies.”