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Chapel Hill's Varsity Theater Makes Financial Goal

Varsity Theatre marquis
The Varsity Theatre

Update Monday 11:44 a.m.:

The Varsity Theatre has successfully made their goal to buy a new digital projector, and they still have 26 days to go in their Kickstarter campaign #GoDigitalOrGoDark. The building houses two theaters, but to try to keep the goal attainable, organizers asked for enough money to convert one to digital. Any additional funds raised in the final days of the campaign will go toward updating the second, larger theater.

The Varsity Theater on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
Credit sunfishtommy / Wikipedia
The Varsity Theater is raising money on Kickstarter for a digital projector. Without it, they might run out of new movies to show.

Original story:

A small movie theater in Chapel Hill is trying to raise $50,000 to buy a new digital projector.

Paul Shareshian owns the Varsity Theater. It shows movies weeks after they've been released in big cineplexes. But studios are switching from film to digital formats.

Shareshian says options became really slim in October.

“A lot of movies aren't even bothering with prints. They're just producing the digitals, and not the prints,” he says.

“So that's where we're at, at this point, is, we have to convert or there's just nothing for us to put on the screen.”

The crowd-funding website Kickstarter has allowed independent theaters to raise money for conversion projects on their side. The Varsity Theater has launched its own Kickstarter campaign.

Shareshian says the Varsity sells second-run movie tickets at a steep discount. It also rents space out for live events and indy film festivals. He says the business model isn't a big moneymaker.

“So, I look at it as a community theater, even though it's not run by the town of Chapel Hill or Orange County, we're doing that work.”

He says if the 60-day Kickstarter campaign doesn't work, the Varsity Theater might close.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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