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Fund-raising may be best course for theater

March 30, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

Five Lakes Cinema, the movie theater in Fairmont, is in trouble. The industry is switching from actual film as a medium to store movies to a digital system. That means the movie projectors at venues like Five Lakes are becoming obsolete. The cost to replace the five projectors locally:?$400,000. And that burden is too heavy for proprietor Dan Blaalid, who took over running the theater last year.

Blaalid is to be credited for stepping in to keep Five Lakes running after a rent dispute between the previous tenant and the landlord. Blaalid has kept prices down and tried to ensure that locals have a place to go to the movies. The theater has been just getting by. It is not a cash cow. That is obvious in the fact that it cannot afford to upgrade to digital projectors.

What Blaalid is suggesting is that anyone with ideas to raise money, or anyone willing to contribute, contact him to help keep the theater running. The email address is:? Yes, it is unusual for a for-profit business to ask for help, but Blaalid has the attitude that the theater is a community asset, and that he has tried to run it as something for the community, not just for himself. We do not see his request for help as greedy. Funds raised would go to new projectors, allowing Five Lakes to remain open. In the alternative, it will close at the end of July.

Now, it is conceivable that if the theater were to close, another proprietor could come in, spend the $400,0000 and reopen the venue. The question is whether that is likely in the near future. Certainly, local residents could take this wait-and-see approach. We suspect a fund-raising campaign would bring a more successful result.



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