Port Townsend movie theater comes up for air in renovation campaign
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Uptown Theatre owner Rick Wiley operates the newly installed digital projector at the Port Townsend cinema. Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The Uptown Theatre, which closed soon after the Port Townsend Film Festival ended Sept. 22, was scheduled to remain shuttered for six weeks and reopen as a fully renovated venue but the owner has changed his strategy.

The theater at 1120 Lawrence St. is open this month.

“The original idea was to do the digital conversion and the renovation all at the same time, but we would have been dark for six-to-eight weeks,” said Rick Wiley, who owns both the Uptown and the North Olympic Peninsula’s only drive-in theater, the Wheel-In Motor Movie, which is at 210 Theatre Road just south of the junction of state Highways 19 and 20.

“You can’t be closed for that long because you lose your continuity,” Wiley said.

Instead, he plans to close later for renovation, with a target reopening date of Thanksgiving, according to his website, ptuptowntheatre.com.

Wiley installed the new digital projector prior to the beginning of the Port Townsend Film Festival and was closed for the following week before reopening with “Prisoner” on Thursday.

It will be followed this week by “Rush,” a movie about auto racing from director Ron Howard.

Aside from the digital upgrade — which is required for the theater to continue to show new movies — the space will get all new floors, carpets and seats along with a redesign that will turn the balcony into a VIP space.

The redesign will reduce the current seating of 330 to about 260, Wiley said, but he expects the number of patrons to increase because the experience is more attractive.

Wiley, whose family has owned and operated the two theaters for 66 years, has opened a Kickstarter campaign for $40,000, about a third or a quarter of the renovation’s total cost. As of Saturday with 19 days to go, the campaign had raised $3,320 toward its goal.

“The Kickstarter campaign is getting a really slow start, which is really concerning to me,” Wiley said.

“My hope is that it builds momentum and a lot of people will contribute at the last minute.

“We are not asking for a lot. We live close to the vest, and when you have a small business you do what you can to maintain your business model.”

The Kickstarter campaign’s incentives are attached to contributions ranging from $25 to $10,000 with a bag of popcorn at the lower end and a package including a personal screening and a trip to a grand opening at the top.

For the Uptown’s Kickstarter page go to tinyurl.com/pdn-kickstarteruptown.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 06. 2013 6:22PM
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