What a wonderful effort Tupper Lakers put in to save the State Theater from becoming obsolete at the end of the year.
When the movie industry stops using film for new movies at the end of this year, the State's two screens won't go dark. Instead, they'll go dark after this coming Thursday night's screenings, the last ones with film. New digital projectors and their associated equipment will be installed, and the cinema will reopen sometime in October.
The State has graduated from "Go Digital or Go dark" to "Go dark to go digital," and like the rest of the community, we're thrilled.
In celebration, the theater will give free popcorn to all at Thursday's farewell-to-film screenings. Sounds like a fun time. "Despicable Me 2" (rated PG) is playing during the day, and "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" (PG) and "The Conjuring" (R) are on at night.
Raising $60,000 in the month of August alone is heroic for a town of 6,000 people.
In doing so, residents saved a local service they obviously appreciate, and they also generously saved a locally owned business from going under. Once again, this remarkable community pulls together, pools its resources and refuses to quit. That's what happened in building the train station and reopening Big Tupper Ski Area, and now in saving the State.
"Can you believe Tupper Lake? Oh my God," State owner Sally Strasser told us Friday. "It's not like we've never seen them do this before, but I never through I was entitled to any of it."
Many, many people donated toward the $95,000 goal, but it's especially important to thank the groups who provided matching donations - including the Tupper Lake Arts Council, Gull Pond Association and Belleville family - and the state and village, which provided and directed a $35,000 microenterprise grant that the State was eligible for.
Although the money came through somewhat last-minute, Ms. Strasser has long brooded over the pending digital conversion. Until quite recently she ran one of Disney's digital screening rooms in New York City, running the State largely from afar and wondering how she could switch it over.
"I've been obsessing about this for five years," she said.
Now that she's a full-time Tupper Laker, she's newly amazed by the community's generosity.
To make this local investment count, Tupper Lakers will have to keep supporting the State by going to movies there. If it's not playing what you want to see, make a suggestion to Ms. Strasser, in person or electronically.
"It's so not like a multiplex, in that you can email through the website and you'll usually get a response really quick," she said. "That's what I think is cool. That's what's so different about running a theater here instead of in a city."
Meanwhile, people in Lake Placid, AuSable Forks and other North Country communities still have some more funds to raise to convert screens at their independent movie houses. We sincerely hope they make it. People in Lake Placid have twice as many screens to convert as Tupper Lakers did.
The multiplexes, which are owned by a handful of national companies, already switched, but our area is in a unique position of still having vintage old, family-owned cinemas in the heart of its downtowns. These businesses are labors of love and service, and while they can afford to pay some of the conversion cost, they really can't afford the whole thing. It may seem weird to you to donate to a private business, but in a vague, non-binding sense, these places belong to the community.