Historic Block Island Theater May Soon Close Its Doors

Jul 29, 2013

The owner of Block’s Island most historic theater said he will have to close later this year unless he can raise $50,000 to buy a digital projector.  An online fundraising drive has raised about $9,000 so far.

At issue is the Empire Theatre, a rustic structure that started life as a roller rink in 1882.  It’s been showing films since the dawn of the movie industry. But after Labor Day, films for its 35 millimeter projector will no longer be available. The industry is converting to digital. 

Theater owner Gary Pollard said it would be a shame to lose this historic movie house.

"Many summer residents saw their first movie here or dropped their children off to see their first movie by themselves here. And it’s also unique because it’s in a rustic style and there are very few theaters remaining in the country that were built in this style and are still functioning as theaters," said Pollard.

Pollard said the film industry is subsidizing the purchase of digital projectors for large theater chains, but independent film houses like his are on their own to acquire one.

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