Buffalo Grove Theater is asking for the community’s support as it works to raise the $300,000 it needs to remain open.
The money would cover the cost of the digital equipment that all theaters will soon require in order to show movies Traditional 35-millimeter film will be unavailable by the end of next year.
Buffalo Grove Theater still projects its movies with film. Owner Debbie Benjamin said she must raise the money by March, and have the new digital equipment in place soon after, to keep the five-screen theater open.
Otherwise, she said, “it’s basically a countdown to the end.”
To raise money, the theater is selling admission and concession packages. The offers, which range from $25 to $1,000, include admission tickets and refreshments. For instance, a supporter who pays $100 will receive 16 admission vouchers and four medium popcorn/two small drink combos.
"They're actually getting back more than they're giving," Benjamin said.
The vouchers will be issued at the end of April, and will be transferrable. Details about the offers are posted on the theater's website.
The admission tickets will carry no restrictions, so movie-goers will be able to use them for new releases and 3-D movies, Benjamin said.
Benjamin said she’s optimistic that the community will rally to save the theater. She hopes to reach the fundraising goal before March, she said.
If the goal is not met and the theater closes, donor contributions will be returned, she said.
Since the theater launched its fundraising campaign last week, it has raised about $700, Benjamin said.
“We’re kind of hoping that people who come here support us like they did the Barrington theater,” she said.
Independent theaters across the region have faced financial challenges recently. In Barrington, the owners of the historic Catlow Theater launched for its digital conversion. They received an outpouring of support from fans, who made donations through a fundraising website in August. They exceeded their goal is less than a week.
In Arlington Heights, Arlington Theaters closed in July after its owner was unable to negotiate a deal on a new lease and digital technology upgrades.
Meanwhile, the City of Highland Park shut down the Highland Park Theatre in May because it did not meet fire codes. The city, which owns the theater, has not yet decided whether to invest $90,000 to reopen the main screen.