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Cinema to unveil digital system

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

A local cinema will soon raise the curtain to reveal long-awaited results of a $90,000 fundraising campaign.

Downtown Paducah's Maiden Alley Cinema completed installation of its digital system last week and is now running tests before it shows its first digital film to the public at 7 p.m. Friday, July 11, Maiden Alley Executive Director Landee Bryant-Greene said.

The process of converting the cinema from showing 35 mm films started June 16, more than a year after the theater used Kickstarter to raise $36,683. Private donors funded the rest. 

"It was always a pie-in-the-sky hope to have updated equipment and take our cinema to the next level. However, it was very expensive and not a necessity (at the time)," Bryant-Greene said.

But as digital projection overtook 35 mm as the industry standard, it became apparent that the theater could either make the switch or close its doors.

Maiden Alley will be showing a digitally re-mastered version of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as a thank-you to the 313 Kickstarter backers and other donors starting at 7 p.m. July 7, and running through July 10.

Bryant-Greene said the film was chosen for its stunning visual effects and sounds, and as a way for audiences to compare what the film looked like when it was first released to how it looks and sounds now.

"I saw the first images last week and I was absolutely blown away," said Bryant-Greene, who added that she first went into the conversion process "kicking and screaming." "The difference is palpable."

The first film that will be shown to the public is "Belle," an independent release about an illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy admiral. That movie was selected, Bryant-Greene said, because it was the independent film that landed in the right time slot to be the first.

"We are very eager to offer (the digital technology) to the public, so we didn't want to wait any longer than we had to," she said.

The theater hired Mack Williams of Williams Cinema Equipment and Service to install the digital system, which includes new projection and sound technology. Ray Black & Son helped with the new ventilation required, Bryant-Greene added.

Although most studios have ceased releasing new movies on 35 mm film, the theater kept its old projector and intends to use it to offer special screenings of classic films.

For more information on upcoming films and cinema events, visit maidenalleycinema.com.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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