Cinephiles in Warren County will have the last chance to view a 35mm film Wednesday evening as the Struthers Library Theatre transitions into the digital age with a new projector in October.
"To Rome with Love," written and directed by Woody Allen, will be the last 35mm film shown in the theater at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Struthers Library Theater Executive Director Marcy O'Brien said a digital projector will be installed in October and films will resume showing after the busy holiday season early next year.
The 35mm film projector at the Struthers Library Theatre.
The 35mm film projector at the Struthers Library Theatre, shown with the cover removed, will be replaced with a digital projector in October.
Bob Priest, facilities manager, is pictured with the platter system that allows the projectionist to spool together multiple reels of film so they can be shown without interruption and again without rewinding.
"All movies from the movie industry in California are going to be digital by the end of 2013," she said. "More than half the movie houses now already are."
The film industry has been pushing for the transition to digital film that isn't nearly as fragile as 35mm, costs less to reproduce and distribute to theaters across the country.
That means no more three to four reels for a film that must be handled by a projectionist and weigh nearly 50 pounds to ship.
Staff at the theater will go through three to four days of training on how to operate the new projector system. The new projector is roughly the same size, O'Brien said, but there will be no spooling with the new system.
That will leave more room in the already crowded and hot projection booth for lighting for productions in the theater.
"When we get a movie now it's going to be like a portable hard drive, you just take and plug it in. From Hollywood they will press the button, we can't play it 'till the time comes that were allowed to. It will be released on the other end," O'Brien said.
For every viewing the theater is allowed a certain amount of time. For example, a movie playing on Friday and Wednesday nights will not be able to played on a Sunday.
"It's very tightly electronically controlled from the other end," O'Brien said.
Will moviegoers notice the change?
"The quality is supposed to be better," Struthers Library Theater Facilities Manager Bob Priest said. "This is going to be pretty quick, we pretty much had to go to this because 35 millimeters are just going to be no more."
"There are people who are not just fans, but zealots, the quality is supposed to be superior," O'Brien said of the old 35mm film. "In 14 months it's all over," O'Brien said.
The new digital equipment comes with hefty price tag that some theaters across the country haven't been able to afford and have had to close their doors.
The total cost of the new equipment was $66,000 that was made possible from "a combination of grants from the DeFrees Foundation and Friends of the Library Theater, and the remaining from our capital campaign," O'Brien said.
"We're very excited about the change, it's been a long time coming," O'Brien said. "This is the latest technology and it's going to be here for years and years."