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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Central Theater upgrading to digital

  • Central Theater in downtown Geneseo will be closed temporarily so digital projection and handicap accessibility upgrades can be made.
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  • Central Theater in downtown Geneseo will be closed temporarily so digital projection and handicap accessibility upgrades can be made.
    The movie theater will be closed for renovations Nov. 19 to Nov. 29.
    Structurally, portions of the building will be changed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
    "The slope from the lobby into the auditorium is too great. To make matters worse, it's a slope that leads to a door threshold, a double 'no-no' as far as ADA is concerned," explained Scott Himmelman, the Geneseo Park District's superintendent of facilities.
    The slope will be modified to meet ADA recommendations.
    Doorways leading to the theater's auditorium also are too narrow and will be widened as part of the renovations.
    "The changes should make accessibility easier for everyone," said Himmelman.
    A special ADA emergency exit will be installed on the west side of the theater and a handicap accessible concession area also will be created.
    Cathelyn Construction of Geneseo is the contractor for the ADA accessibility changes at the theater.
    At the same time, the theater will upgrade from 35-mm to digital projection.
    "In 2013, they will stop making 35-mm filmstrips," said Himmelman.
    In order for Central Theater to continue to show movies, an upgrade was needed.
    "With 35-mm, we receive the film in big canisters. The studios only make so many film prints because they're so expensive, so we sometimes have to wait weeks to get a movie," said Himmelman.
    With digital projection, movies arrive at theaters on external hard drives. Compared to 35-mm, the digital films are much less costly to manufacture.
    "We should be able to get movies here quicker," said Himmelman.
    The change to digital projection might result in Central Theater screening more opening night movies.
    The new digital projection also should change the visual quality of the movie.
    "It should be like watching high-def TV," explained Himmelman. "The grainy spots associated with 35-mm film should disappear.
    "We also shouldn't have as many technical difficulties, because our projectionists will no longer have to splice the actual film together," he noted.
    "Along the way, we'll also be upgrading our sound system from 5.1 to 7.1 The changes will result in a clearer picture with clearer sound."
    Though Central Theater is operated by the Geneseo Park District, the facility is owned by
    Central Bank.
    "Central Bank has assisted with funds for these projects," said Himmelman.
    In addition, the park district received a special grant for the digital upgrade. A stipulation with the grant funds requires the theater to be open seven days a week.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We will be adding Wednesday and Thursday show times," said Himmelman. Movies will be shown at 7:10 p.m. on those evenings, starting after the theater re-opens on Nov. 29.
    "We'll still have our bring-your-own-bowl popcorn Mondays and we're considering adding a Thirsty Thursday event," said Himmelman.
    Though no official changes have been made, park district officials also are considering changing Saturday night movie times from 8 p.m. to 7:10 p.m. If the change is enacted, Central Theater films would start at 7:10 p.m. each night of the week.
    "We've been conducting a survey, and we're finding most people would prefer the Saturday movie to start earlier," said Himmelman. "However, we've not made any decisions on that yet."
    The public is invited to an open house at Central Theater from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6. The open house will be held in conjunction with the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours event.
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