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Peterborough owners seek online donations to upgrade to digital

  • Judy and Roy Mills at the concession stand of the Peterborough Community Theater. The couple is trying to raise $45,000 online in order to upgrade to a digital projection system. <br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Roy and Judy Mills, Peterborough theater<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Roy and Judy Mills, Peterborough theater<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Peterborough Community Theater<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Peterborough Community Theater<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

PETERBOROUGH — With two weeks to go in their effort to raise $45,000 in order to convert the Peterborough Community Theatre to a digital projection system for movies, owners Judy and Roy Mills are hoping for an outpouring of community support. Otherwise, they say they’ll probably have to shut down the theater, which has been a Peterborough landmark since it opened 99 years ago.

“We need a lot more money,” Judy Mills said Tuesday. “We’re not halfway there and we only have 15 days left. It will take a big push. Hopefully it will work.”

The deadline Mills referred to is April 3, when a campaign on the online fundraising site Kickstarter will come to an end. As of Wednesday, donors have pledged $14,356 through the site. But none of that money is guaranteed. If the full $45,000 isn’t pledged, the Millses will not be able to collect any of the Kickstarter donations.

“It’s really important for us to reach that number,” Mills said. “So many people have told us, ‘Please don’t close.’ The people who want us to stay open can donate $50 or $100, but it really takes a lot of them.”

The Kickstarter site includes a video in which the Millses describe the history of the theater and local moviegoers tell what the theater means to them. The site also includes a list of incentives, including varying amounts of free admission passes and refreshments for contributions at different levels. So far, 137 people have pledged, at levels ranging from $10 to $250. No one has yet pledged at the higher contribution levels.

If $45,000 is not pledged by April 3, Mills said they would remain open while they continue to search for other ways to raise money.

“I’ve made a bunch of phone calls to people who have shown an interest in helping,” Mills said. “We’ve even had a donation from a group of children at one of the private schools who raised $1,000. Another group of children are planning to put on a dance at the country club in May.”

The money is needed because the movie industry is rapidly moving away from 35 millimeter film. In the next year or so, theater will have to convert its projection systems for digital delivery. Mills said the most recent estimate they had to buy and install the required equipment is for $43,500, which they used as a base for their fundraising effort.

“We’re still open, still showing first-run movies,” Mills said. “We had ‘Oz, the Great and Powerful’ on its opening day. But it’s getting harder and harder to get movies, given that fewer film versions are available.”

She said some recent films, including the popular “Identity Theft,” have been released only in digital format, which means there’s no way it can be shown in Peterborough.

Mills said it should only take about six weeks to get the digital equipment delivered, if they can raise the money to buy it. She said the theater would probably have to close for about five days for installation.

To see the theater’s campaign information on Kickstarter or to make a contribution, go to www.kickstarter.com and search for Peterborough. Donations to the theater fundraising project may also be sent directly to Roy and Judy Mills at 20 Bennington Road, Hancock, 03449.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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