JEM Movie Theatre Digital Projector Conversion

The USA Today mentions the JEM Theatre in an article! Read the story here.

We are so thankful for all the donations, help, community support and all the fundraising efforts that have taken place since the JEM announced the need to raise funds for a digital projector one year ago.

It is so hard to put into words how thankful we are for everyone's support, in so many ways. Last year when the decision was made to make our dilemma public, it was a difficult decision to ask for the community's help. We never wanted to ask for support, but we knew the public deserved to know why the JEM may have to go out of business. The theatre itself was fine, but the mandatory change in the movie delivery format was not a price the JEM could afford. When this news got out, so many people stepped up to offer their help and expertise. We really appreciated this.

Paul and I were so excited going into 2012 and reaching our fundraising goal. Losing Paul in January was very tragic for our family and I know for so many in the community as well. I personally am overwhelmed with the kindness, continued donations, help and support by so many.

Over $40,000 was donated to the JEM Digital Fund! This is amazing! I have paid off the loans that required payments. The JEM is no longer in need to raise funds for this cause.

Thank you to everyone! Without all that you have done. The JEM would not have the opportunity to keep its doors open to show new movies to so many people and families. Thank you all for being 'Friends of the JEM'!

Michelle Haugerud

We are so thankful for all the donations, help, community support and all the fundraising efforts that have taken place since the JEM announced the need to raise funds for a digital projector. With the recent event at Wheelers on February 11th, the total amount raised to date is nearly $37,000!!! A huge thank you to Lynn Mensink, Brian Fishbaugher, all the organizers and Wheelers for all they have done. With their hard work, the benefit raised nearly $16,000, and has put the theatre so close to reaching the goal of paying off the immediate loan for the digital projector for the theatre.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Paul. He was a wonderful man that so many enjoyed being around. We worked so hard over the last year to upgrade the theatre to digital and we are so grateful for all the support that has been given to that effort. We are very blessed to have so many supportive friends and family and with their help the theatre will continue to show movies. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayer’s during this very difficult time... The family of Paul Haugerud

Wonderful News for the Fundraising Effort!
The total amount needed for the JEM to payoff the Digital Projector loan and to purchase the additional needed equipment to allow the new digital projector to communicate with DVD, TV and gaming is $60,000; With the $11,800 raised so far, this leaves $48,200.

JEM Theater Community Challenge!
With the help of some wonderul people and through a generous gift from Gladys Evenrud, the Trust for a Better Harmony has made available $30,000 to the JEM Theatre for the digital projector conversion and is challenging the community to raise another $30,000, or more by April 1, 2012!

Donations can be made at First Southeast Bank, ATTN: JEM Theatre Projector Fund. All donations will go directly towards Ms. Evenrud's challenge to fund the projector. For questions on how to donate, please call First Southeast Bank at 507-886-6922.

Of this $30,000 that is going directly to the note for the digital projector, $10,000 will be repaid to the Trust to support future community projects. This leaves a balance of $18,200 to be raised to fully pay for the projector conversion and then an additional $10,000 to allow for the JEM to repay the Trust. $28,200 is a much better goal than $75,000 from what the JEM started with and the JEM could not have gotten this far without all donations from our generous community. So many have been a part of allowing the JEM Movie Theatre to stay open for families to enjoy today and in the future. We are all very lucky to live here.

Where the JEM is at with Fundraising!
Our first ever Football Night at the JEM on Monday, November 14th was a success! Thanks to the 'Friends of the JEM', all the local businesses that donated food and door prizes and to all the volunteers who helped make the night a success, over $4,000 was raised and donated to the Digital Conversion Fund. I hope everyone who came had a great night. This brought the total amount raised with fundraising to over $11,000!!!

The Greeting Card fundraising is about to wrap up, so if you are interested in purchasing a box of cards, contact the JEM to order.

The JEM is going DIGITAL…but the fundraising goes on!
With the reduced number of 35mm prints available, the JEM was facing a tough decision to either shut the doors or take a short-term loan to get a digital projector now. So with the donations to date, $7,200 and a recent opportunity to purchase a barely used digital projector and required equipment for only $55,000 vs. $75,000, the bank agreed to loan the difference so the projector could be installed. We will continue the fundraising for another six months with 100% of the funds raised going toward this loan. Our goal is to have the projector completely paid for by the end of April 2012.

If you have made a donation to the projector fund, THANK YOU! Without the funds raised to date, this would not have been possible. If you would like to support this transition, funds can be sent to First Southeast Bank, PO Box 429, Harmony, MN 55939 for the JEM Projector Fund. These funds are not going to or handled by the JEM Movie Theatre.

This being said, the JEM will be digital effective 11/11/11! If you want to be a part of the JEM Theatre history, come to the movie this weekend for the last 35mm film to ever run there.

Watch the video of the last 35mm film being put together at the JEM Movie Theatre.

The JEM Movie Theatre has been a place to enjoy current movies and still afford to bring an entire family for the movie and concessions. The technology that has been in place at the JEM has been there for many years using a 35mm film projector and platter system. The industry has been slowly converting over to digital movie prints which requires a special digital projector that the movie industry has approved. The time has come where all movie theatres are being forced to change the way they show movies and are being forced to purchase a new projector or go out of business. 35mm print movies are being produced less and are expected to no longer be made by 2013. For the bigger movies houses, this is not as big of a deal, but to theatres like the JEM, it may be devastating. The cost to convert the JEM to digital is $75,000, and this is without 3-D capabilites.

The JEM Movie Theatre is rare in that it is a family owned and run movie theatre. All the owners in the past have put their own money into the theatre to make improvements or upgrade equipment. We have done this as well. Since 2002 when we purchased the movie theatre, we have reinvested by updating the building with a new roof, new insulation and interior walls, upgraded the electrical, replaced all the theatre seats, repaired the marquee and ticket booth from major water damage, installed new lobby carpet and air conditioning. We have also purchased theatre equipment, including a new platter system, projector lenses, movie screen and popcorn maker.

Having a family run business has allowed us to share the business with our six children. They all have worked with us at the theatre. We have also committed to showing good movies every weekend since 2002. We have worked all but three of these weekends over these years. Even though we both work full-time during the week, Michelle at SMG Web Design in Preston, Minnesota and Paul is a self-employed as a drywall finisher and painter. We still enjoy coming to the theatre each weekend and sharing the movie experience with so many. We strive to keep the theatre open and at a cost where all families can come and share the theatre with their children. This projector conversion is one that could force us to shut the doors. Although financing for it is available, the theatre would not be able to afford additional debt to this extent. Therefore, we are reaching out to our surrounding communities for support in this.

Funds raised will only go toward the projector conversion cost. If for some reason the goal is not met and we are still unable to purchase the projector, we will refund to those who donated and/or donate to another local cause.
This fundraising has only one goal...Keep the JEM Movie Theatre Open! Paul and Michelle Haugerud

Feel free to contact Michelle with any questions at 507-951-4204.

Minnesota Public Radio - MPR News - Story about the conversion!

Watch the News Story that KMIT News did on the JEM Movie Theatre!

Watch the News Story that KTTC News did on the JEM Movie Theatre!

Watch the News Story that KAAL 6 News did on the JEM Movie Theatre!

Watch the News Story that WCCO did on the JEM Movie Theatre!

Donations can be sent to First Southeast Bank
PO Box 429 | Harmony, MN 55939 | 507-886-6922
JEM Digital Projector Fund

The following is an article written about this issue.

Small theater operators weigh digital conversion

Film prints may become unavailable in 2013 and financing for digital projection technology is winding down, but installation costs are still prohibitive for many of the smallest movie houses.

By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
April 19, 2011

For more than three decades, the Kim family has operated a popular 800-seat neighborhood theater on Crenshaw Boulevard in Gardena. The single-screen movie house — a rarity anywhere — has weathered multiple storms. It thrived in the 1970s and early 1980s by specializing in Spanish-language movies, until its Mexican film distributor went out of business. The Kims switched to screening conventional Hollywood movies, but soon confronted growing competition from new multiplexes. They adapted by selling lower-priced tickets, catering to budget-conscious families looking for an affordable night out.

Now they face what could be their biggest hurdle: how to foot the bill for a new digital projection system.

"We've been investigating converting to digital, but it's cost prohibitive for us," said Judy Kim, an attorney who manages Gardena Cinema for her parents, who are in their 70s. "You're talking about tens of thousands of dollars for a machine, and you're not sure it's worth putting in that kind of money or whether you're going to get a return on your investment."

After years of delays, the century-old movie exhibition business is finally embracing digital technology. Equipment suppliers can barely keep up with the demand. About 800 to 900 digital screens are being added each month to theaters large and small nationwide, allowing them to screen 3-D movies, beam live sporting and music events and deliver sharper, scratch free images to audiences.

But hundreds of small theater operators such as the Kims have yet to get with the digital program — and may be left out if they don't act soon. "The pressure is on," said Greg Laemmle, president of Laemmle Theatres, the L.A.-based art house movie chain that is weighing how many digital projectors to install at its eight locations. "We're going to have to jump."

To assist theaters in making the leap, studios are helping to pay for the equipment through so-called virtual print fees. In lieu of making and delivering 35-millimeter film prints — which cost about $1,000 each versus $100 to $200 for a digital print — studios are putting aside the money they save to help theaters buy the equipment they need to convert to digital projection systems. But that financing is winding down. Under agreements with studios, exhibitors can qualify for the funding only if they install their digital equipment by the end of next year. Film prints — the reels that are threaded through projectors — could become unavailable as early as 2013, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners.

With digital distribution, a hard-drive copy of a movie is shipped to the theater, where it is inserted into a server that operates the projection system. In some cases, movies are also transmitted digitally via satellite.

John Fithian, the theater owner group's president, recently issued a dire warning at the industry's annual convention in Las Vegas. "Simply put, if you don't make the decision to get on the digital train soon, you will be making the decision to get out of the business," Fithian told attendees. "That would be tragic because digital cinema and 3-D have so much to offer."

Overseas, theater operators also are rapidly converting to digital, although studios are expected to continue shipping film prints to some smaller countries for the foreseeable future. Nearly half of all 39,000 screens in the U.S. are digital, up from just a few thousand in 2007. By year's end, about 23,000 digital screens will have been installed, mostly from expansion by the three largest theater chains: AMC Entertainment Inc., Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark Holdings Inc. A consortium representing the circuits raised nearly $900 million to finance the rollout.

Despite the rapid expansion, Fithian is nonetheless concerned that several hundred smaller exhibitors — those with 10 or fewer screens — have held off installing digital equipment. "We've been telling exhibitors for four years that this is coming," Fithian said in an interview. "We don't want people to be left behind." There are 650 theater companies in the U.S. and Canada with fewer than 100 screens, including 270 with just one screen. Some of these smaller operators believe film won't disappear any time soon. Others can't afford the investment. Digital projectors and accompanying computer hardware and software cost about $65,000 per screen. That doesn't include an additional $4,000 to $8,000 for a special silver screen, which is required on some systems, and approximately $10,000 to $20,000 more for 3-D equipment.

Making such a hefty investment is intimidating to small operators, especially at a time when business has fallen off sharply. Box-office revenue and admissions have dropped more than 20% this year from 2010. Adding to the anxiety are fears that studios will further induce moviegoers to stay away from theaters by offering movies in the home just 60 days after their box-office debuts. "It's disconcerting that they are really pushing us to spend a lot of money on digital at a time when they are tinkering with the traditional business model, which could jeopardize our business," said David Corwin, president of Metropolitan Theatres Corp., which is investing $5 million to finish converting its 101 screens in the Western U.S. and British Columbia to digital.

Small exhibitors can obtain loans to buy equipment through their local banks, the Small Business Administration, equipment vendors or so-called third party integrators such as Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp., a New Jersey-based company that buys and installs digital equipment in theaters and collects virtual print fees from distributors to help exhibitors pay back the loans to buy equipment. "The bottom line is that financing is available to everyone in one way or the other," said Chuck Goldwater, president of Cinedigm's media services group. "What we tell exhibitors is that the clock is ticking."

Some theater owners, however, said they can't shoulder more debt. Jeff Mexico, who owns a drive-in theater and two cinemas in Salem, Ore., said he was paying down a $200,000 loan he took out to refurbish one of his theaters in 2006 and can't afford to borrow more money. "I'm just at a point where I can't take on any more debt," he said. Yet Mexico said he knows he may not have a choice because film may not be around much longer. A stark reminder of that came recently when a distributor told him he couldn't book "Source Code," the action thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal. "They said, 'We don't have enough film prints.' "
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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