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home : news : business   April 29, 2016

6/30/2014 11:12:00 AM
Going digital still a goal of drive-in theater owner

Lauren Blough
NewsTribune Reporter

The push to go digital is putting pressure on Ron Magnoni, owner of the Route 34 Drive-In Theater in Earlville. 

With the film industry decreasing the production of 35 millimeter film reels, Magnoni still is working to raise the $70,000 needed to purchase the equipment to go digital. 

Magnoni has held fundraisers throughout the past year to help raise money for the costs. 

This year, Magnoni is planning to hold another drive-in fundraiser like he did this past fall.  The date for the upcoming car show is not yet set. 

So far, Magnoni has raised about one-third of the cost of the equipment that he will need to convert to digital, he said.

He hasn’t given up hope yet, saying that he still has plenty of movie-goers attend the drive-ins on the weekends.

Meanwhile in Streator, the Majestic Theatre on Vermillion Street also has been working to raise the money needed to go digital. 

The cost for the Majestic was much higher than that of the Drive-In, totaling $120,402.73.  Approximately $28,500 was raised for the theatre by private donation and fundraising done by The Knights of Columbus, Streator fireman, Grant Street Grocery and other local organizations, according to a release by the Majestic Theatre.    

A kind gesture from a former Streator resident, Robert Endres, helped them reach their goal. 

It’s believed that Tim Burke who originally purchased the Majestic in 1997 played a part in Endres career as a film projectionist for both Radio City Music Hall in New York City and Dolby Laboratories in New York City.

Endres said that he got his start in the industry when one of the projectionists showed him the projection booth in the Majestic when he was 9 years old. That projectionist is believed to have been Tim Burke. 

After hearing of the Majestic’s trouble raising the money, Endres cut a check for nearly $100,000 and donated it to the Theatre. 

On June 20 both screens at the Majestic Theatre became capable of running both 35mm film and digital production.

According to a release by the Majestic Theatre, the digital projection has been installed and staff members are looking forward to a bright future in the community and are looking to pay it forward and help others after they have been helped. 

Magnoni, who heard about the Majestic’s good fortune this past week, is feeling a little envious.

“I wish I could get that lucky, I don’t need nearly that much,” he said. 

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