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Hampton Arts Cinema, short of funding goal, may close

The two-screen Hampton Arts Cinema, in Westhampton Beach,

The two-screen Hampton Arts Cinema, in Westhampton Beach, was open for business on July 18, 2014, but it has turned to crowdfunding site to raise the $125,000 needed to purchase two digital projectors. Credit: Randee Daddona

With less than 24 hours to go, the Hampton Arts Cinema remained well short of its goal to raise $125,000 on the crowdfunding site to make the movie industry's mandated upgrade from film to digital projection. Without the conversion, general manager Tim Walkman has said the 87-year-old theater in Westhampton Beach likely would have to close.

As of late Friday, it had raised $30,466 from 187 donors and was working against a Kickstarter-imposed deadline of 10:53 a.m. Saturday. Under the website's rules, if the goal isn't met by the deadline, all funds pledged are returned to donors.

"As of now, we're not aware of any way you can extend that deadline," Nick Lane, a manager at the theater, said late Thursday. "We could try another Kickstarter plan, but we'll have to cross that bridge when we get there."

Management at the two-screen theater has said it needs the $125,000 to purchase two digital projectors.

For years movie studios have been ramping up efforts to make the switch from film to digital projection, and although no official cutoff date has been given, major studios such as Paramount Pictures plan to end production and distribution of celluloid prints this year.

Today nearly 95 percent of screens in the United States use digital projectors, accounting for roughly 87 percent of movie theaters nationally, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.

Hampton Arts is offering Kickstarter donors a range of incentives, from a large popcorn and drink for a $10 donation, to a year of on-screen ads for businesses that pledge $5,000.

For now at least, there are no plans to sweeten the incentives, Lane said.

"There's still a chance to get a large benefactor to donate the rest of the money," he said.

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