LAKE PLACID - The village board encouraged locals to support the Palace Theatre's fundraising push to switch to digital projectors.
The conversation was prompted by a letter from a former Lake Placid resident, Norma Jean Lamb, who now lives in Buffalo but still keeps close tabs on the area.
Lamb wrote that her family has strong ties with the theater: Her grandfather was one of the local businessmen who financed the opening of the Palace's predecessor, the Happy Hour Theatre.
The Palace Theatre in Lake?Placid
(Enterprise file photo — Richard Rosentreter)
She noted that she spent many hours watching movies there growing up, so she sees the potential loss of the theater as personal. Area movie theaters are threatened because the movie distribution industry plans in the next year to stop using film to screen first-run movies. Small theaters across the country face the choice of shutting their doors, putting tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into converting to digital projectors, or switching to the limited market of art-house movies.
"Even more alarming to me is the potential harm to Lake Placid's status as a world-class, all-around resort town," Lamb wrote. "The abundance of sports activities is very attractive to tourists, but what do they do in the evening? The bar scene can get pretty thin."
The Clark family, which runs the theater, has already used their own funds to replace one film projector with a digital one.
"They can't be expected to fund the other rooms on their own at $80,000-plus per room," Lamb wrote. "They amply deserve the tangible support for the community, corporately and privately."
Mayor Craig Randall said he appreciates the letter, but the village can't contribute to the effort, since it would benefit a private enterprise. The board can, however, endorse the Adirondack North Country Association's fundraising effort to help the Palace and other North Country movie theaters.
"We should do everything we can do to encourage people to support that," Randall said. "I think we'd like to keep as many of those four screens live as possible."
Trustee Jason Leon asked if the village could provide space in village facilities for a theater-related fundraiser. If ANCA approaches the village and asks for it, the village could provide the space, Randall said.
Leon noted that tickets and food at most movie theaters are much more expensive than at the Palace.
"It's a fantastic business," Leon said. "It's very rare you run into a place like the Palace Theatre, where the tickets are moderately priced and the food is even less."
For more information on ANCA's fundraising effort, go to www.adirondack.org/godigital.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.