Fight to Survive

Fund drive under way to help
keep Ohio Theatre open

Theatre must convert to
digital projection by 2013 or close

Staff Report

(august 2012) – The movie industry is making its biggest change since silent films became “talkies,” and Madison’s historic Ohio Theatre is in the crosshairs. The 1938 theater must convert to digital projection and sound by 2013 or permanently close its doors.
To make that transition, a unique fundraising effort has kicked off at www.SaveTheOhio.com.
The industry is switching from traditional 35mm film to digital sound and projection with extreme speed. Already 75 percent of American theaters have upgraded to digital equipment. By early 2013, movies will no longer be available in 35mm film.

Ohio Theatre

Photo by Don Ward

The Ohio Theatre
has entertained
Madisonians and
visitors to the
area since 1938.

“Many small town theaters will close due to the digital revolution,” said Tony Ratcliff, who runs the Ohio Theatre with his wife, Laura. “Like many of them, we’re a small family-owned business. We don’t have the corporate backing of the major chains to make this transition on our own.”
Converting to digital is an expensive proposition. The upgrade will cost $85,000 for the Ohio’s main auditorium and an additional $65,000 for the balcony auditorium. Ratcliff said the fundraising effort’s first goal will be to raise the $25,000 down payment by Aug. 31.
“Digital will bring a whole new realm of entertainment to Madison,” said Laura Ratcliff. “You’ll be able to watch ultra-sharp films with high quality digital sound. 3-D will pop off the screen. We will even feature content not seen in Madison before – from Broadway shows to live concerts.”
She added that the Ohio Theatre will keep its 35mm equipment so it can continue showing classic films.
The upgrade will include installing new 3-D capable digital projection systems, new digital surround sound, new screens, as well as wiring, networking, venting and other infrastructure needed to support the new equipment.
The Ratcliffs say they hope area residents will embrace the unique fundraising effort. “We have created Internet site www.SaveTheOhio.com, where individuals can help the fund drive by purchasing packages for which they can receive a direct reward,” Tony Ratcliff explained. “All the contributions are being kept in a special bank account. Once we reach the goal, we will send out the rewards to contributors. If the goal is not met, everyone’s money will be returned. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Rewards range from a couple’s night out with popcorn and drinks to private screenings and all-you-can watch films for a year. There is also be a special “Friends of the Ohio” membership group that will include special events including a ticket to the digital premiere gala tentatively planned for November.
The Ratcliffs are also welcoming investors and have created special reward packages for area companies.
Contributions can be made at SaveTheOhio.com by clicking the “Help Now” button.
“Since 1938, the Ohio Theatre has been at the heart of downtown Madison,” Tony Ratcliff said. “This theater has entertained with movies, plays and concerts. Downtown businesses and restaurants depend on the crowds attending the Ohio. It’s vital that Madison keep the Ohio Theatre alive for the generations to come!”

• For more information call Tony or Laura Ratcliff at (812) 273-4821 or email us at inforequest@ohiotheatremadison.com

Back to August 2012 Articles.



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