October 31, 2012

Low attendance could shut down Erincinema

As published in The Erin Advocate

Erincinema could be coming to the end of its reel, due to low attendance and the projected cost of upgrading its equipment.

"Our movie program has had very low or limited success since its inception," said Facilities Manager Graham Smith, in a report to councillors last week. At some recent screenings, there have been only five people in the theatre. And there were no complaints when the program was closed for the summer.

"If there's no participation, you're going to lose the cinema," said Mayor Lou Maeiron. "Use it or lose it."

Treasurer Sharon Marshall said the Town-backed venture has never broken even since it showed its first movie on March 8, 2002. The Town loaned it $38,400 to buy projection equipment in 2002, from the proceeds of selling the old Erin Hydro utility, and the money was repaid over seven years with cinema revenues and a Hydro One grant of $5,000.

Deficits have risen, however, and Erincinema is projected to lose $18,000 this year.

"Our prices are competitive, however we are always three to six weeks behind the bigger theatres on our titles," said Graham. "Going digital may give us better opportunities to get more up to date films earlier."

Like all theatres, Erincinema is competing with online movie services. By the end of next year, movies will no longer be produced on 33mm film, so the Town is facing an estimated cost of $45,450 for a digital projector. Council may not support that purchase for the 2013 budget.

There have always been problems with the acoustic quality, but that is related to the design of the theatre, not the sound equipment, said Graham. The Town is looking into the possibility of installing panels that would improve the sound quality for all theatre events.