The projector works, popcorn is in the popcorn maker, and tickets are stocked, but no one is here. "It was kind of a sad day when they told us we had to close, hopefully we can get back open," said Roy Reitenbaugh, manager of the Hot Springs Theater.
Reitenbaugh has been the manager of the Hot Springs movie theater for 16 years. "It was something to keep the kids off the streets. I just did it for that purpose," said Reitenbaugh.
The theater showed its first film back in 1930, and has been showing films up until three weeks ago when it was forced to close because it couldn't compete with the digital world. Reitenbaugh says the movie company bumped up the price of renting films to $1,500, making it difficult for the theater to stay open. "The movie company wants us to get rid of film and the best way to get rid of film is to raise the price to so outrageous that we can't afford it," said Reitenbaugh.
Going digital would not only keep down the price of getting movies, but also keep down the cost of admission. But making the switch to digital would cost upwards of $60,000 to replace the film projector, sound system, and screen. Reitenbaugh says the owner is not going to pay for the changes, so he is asking for people to fundraise to save the theater."There's other towns that have raised $170,000 in different places, so I don't know why we couldn't do it," said Reitenbaugh.
Jimmy Goodhouse, who visits weekly, agrees. "I think somebody ought to save this. Somebody," said Goodhouse.
Because the theater has been in Hot Springs for more than 80 years, one resident says it's staple of the community. "I think it brings a lot of good values to the town because it's like the town," said Michelle Snapp, who owns "Shelly's Stuff," next door to the theater.
If the theater doesn't get enough money, Reitenbaugh says it will close. "Just trying to figure out a way to get a movie back in here," said Reitenbaugh.