Business

Longtime Hamptons Theater Tries To Avoid Unhappy Ending

WESTHAMPTON BEACH (CBSNewYork) — A community is rallying around a mom-and-pop cinema that is facing extinction after being a part of the fabric of the Hamptons since 1927.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the Hampton Arts Cinema, a tiny two-screen theater, doesn’t pull in enough profit to pay for the movie industry’s mandated upgrade from film to digital, which costs $70,000 per projector.

“More than likely, we’ll end up having to close the doors because it’s just too great an expense for our little theater,” said Tim Walkman, general manager of the Hampton Arts Cinema.

“We’ll miss the nostalgic tick of the machines,” said Laurie Rubick, the theater’s managing director and Walkman’s sister.

Walkman noted that the cinema has survived the Great Hurricane of 1938, Superstorm Sandy and a fire.

But technology might be what finally does the business in.

“When there is a huge shift in technology within an industry, it always is a problem for the smallest of the businesses,” said Erica Chase-Gregory of the state’s Small Business Development Center.

Losing a tradition can sap a community’s soul.

Hamptons film critic and historian Andrew Botsford said that for 87 yards, the Hampton Arts Cinema has been a pulse and lifeline for many in the Hamptons.

“You can’t beat the local cinema as a rallying point, as a focal point, as a community identity,” said Botsford, a professor at Stony Brook Southampton.

Rubick went from candy girl 24 years ago to managing director today — and she hopes the tradition will be preserved.

“Would be really sad to see this go,” she said. “We love to serve the community, and now my daughter works here. She’s 16.”

A Kickstarter campaign is underway to try to save the theater. Just 10 percent of its $125,000 goal has been met. If the money isn’t raised by Aug. 30, all funds pledged will be returned to donors.

The National Association of Theatre Owners says using hard drives loaded with a digital copy stands to save the industry $1 billion a year.

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