Port Townsend movie theater at half of goal in online fundraiser

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A Kickstarter campaign to raise money toward the renovation of the Uptown Theatre had raised a little more than half its goal with mere hours to go, but the theater owner wasn't discouraged.

“If we don't raise the money, we'll go back to the drawing board,” said Rick Wiley, who owns and operates both the Uptown at 1120 Lawrence St. and Wheel-In Motor Movie, a drive-in theater outside Port Townsend.

“We may do our own independent fundraiser without the use of Kickstarter and will approach those who have contributed so far,” he said.

By 2 p.m. Wednesday, $22,192 of a goal of $40,000 had been pledged on the theater's Kickstarter site — http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Uptown-Kickstart — with 34 hours to go before the close of the campaign at 3 a.m. Friday.

Wiley said he hasn't lost hope that the money will be raised by the deadline.

“It is possible that some angel will swoop in at the last minute,” he said.

“I think we might get real close.”

Wiley began the one-month campaign Sept. 25. The goal represents about a quarter of the renovation's estimated cost.

No credit cards will be charged unless the campaign reaches its goal, Wiley said.

Wiley originally planned to close in September for the installation of a digital projector — which was necessary for the theater to continue to show new movies — and reopen in November.

But he decided instead to reopen with the digital projector only in October and close in November for the renovations.

If the Kickstarter effort is unsuccessful, then the theater will stay open while other fundraising possibilities are explored, Wiley said.

Planned renovations include new floors, carpets and seats, along with a conversion of the balcony into a VIP area with cushier seating and food service.

The redesign will reduce the current seating of 330 to about 260, Wiley said, but he expects the improvements will mean more are drawn to come to the theater.

Wiley said the advantage of Kickstarter is that it provides the ability to collect funds and manage their distribution, but the disadvantage is that it takes 10 percent of the gross.

“If we make the $40,000 Kickstarter goal, we will only collect $36,000, so if we do a more direct fundraiser, we will raise more money,” Wiley said.

“It's more work to do a direct campaign, but we don't have to deal with their restrictions,” he said.

“We can extend the campaign past Thanksgiving.”

For Halloween, Wiley plans an 11 p.m. showing of the original 1931 “Frankenstein” film, starring Boris Karloff.

This weekend, the theater is showing the new Ridley Scott movie “The Counselor.”

For more information, visit www.ptuptowntheatre.com.

To contribute to the campaign, visit http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Uptown-Kickstart.

________

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

Last modified: October 23. 2013 8:42PM
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