Virginia Theatre delaying holiday screening to go digital

Virginia Theatre delaying holiday screening to go digital

CHAMPAIGN — The Virginia Theater is getting a new projector.

And, yes, Virginia, that means a holiday classic will have to be delayed.

But when next you see Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, they'll be in sharper digital shadows on the screen.

The Champaign Park District said a Dec. 7 holiday screening of "It Happened One Night" (1934) has been rescheduled for Aug. 2, 2014, to allow the Virginia Theatre to upgrade its projection equipment.

The work will be done by James Bond of Full Aperture Systems, Chicago, the projectionist of Ebertfest fame.

Steven Bentz, the theater's director, said the new equipment is necessary as the modern film industry abandons analog projects.

But that doesn't means the two 33-millimeter projectors are going.

"Thirty-five (millimeter) is core to our mission of showing classic films," Bentz said. "But we still need to show digital films to make this a sustainable theater."

Workers are knocking a new hole into the projection booth for the updated equipment; meanwhile, the apertures needed for two manually synchronized vintage projectors remain.

Since spotlights have been added to the projector booth, Bentz said, seats have been freed for use by viewers where the spotlights used to be.

Bentz called Bond "one of the most renowned projectionists out there" and said he will have a hand in the restoration.

The renovation will cost more than $100,000, Bentz added.

As for "It Happened One Night," tickets for director Frank Capra's classic comedy are still good.

Tickets to the Dec. 7 screening will be honored at the Aug. 2 screening. Patrons who have already purchased tickets for the December date may request a full refund at the Virginia Theatre box office or by calling 356-9063.

The park district said the Virginia Theatre will not be showing movies from Nov. 11 through Jan. 17, 2014, as the new digital equipment is added.

N-G Film Series schedule

A look at the remainder of the 2013-14 News-Gazette Film Series (shows are at 1 and 7 p.m. at the Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., C):

-- Jan. 18, 2014: "Witness for the Prosecution" (1957)
-- Feb. 8: "The Philadelphia Story" (1940)
-- March 15: "Steamboat Bill Jr." (1928)
-- April 5: "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951)
-- May 24: "A Night at the Opera" (1935)
-- June 21: "The Maltese Falcon" (1941)
-- July 12: "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935)
-- Aug. 2: "It Happened One Night" (1934)

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