The Astor Theatre opened in 1902 as an opera house and showed its first silent film in 1917. Films steadily rose in popularity and the Astor showed its first talking picture in 1930. Throughout World War II the theatre was host to many documentaries and news reels regarding the war. Now the theatre shows Blockbuster hits on weekends and independent films are shown during the Wednesday Night Cinema Series.
“It’s a tradition and it’s a history,” says Chris Ball, manager of the Astor Theatre. “It’s a service a lot of communities wish they had.”
Money from films shown at the Astor also helps subsidize the cost of tickets to live shows.
“Without movies the price of tickets will have to go up to offset the cost of running the theatre,” says Ball.
Upgrades have been made to the sound systems, screen and the projectors over the years but none have been as extensive as this current project.
“It’s like we’re ripping out the bridge of the Titanic and putting in the bridge of the Starship Enterprise,” says Ball.
The project will cost approximately $70,000 and will also include structural changes to the projection booth and upgrades to the sound system. To pay for the project, the Astor Theatre Society will be doing fundraising as well as applying for government grants.