Pickford reopens old theater as Limelight Cinema

Photo: The old Pickford space on Cornwall Avenue has been remodeled and renamed the Limelight Cinema — opening June 24 with the film “Hobo with a Shotgun.” Program director Michael Falter said the remodel cost nearly $15,000. Mark Stayton | BBJ

The Pickford Film Center (PFC) will reopen its Cornwall Avenue location on June 24 under a new name, PFC’s Limelight Cinema.

Michael Falter, PFC programming director, said the much-loved location was closed in April after the PFC opened a two-screen theater on Bay Street.

Falter said an update of the Cornwall Avenue location was overdue, but the cinema couldn’t afford to shut down long enough to change out the seats and revamp until the new theater was up and running.

Falter said the total renovation cost just under $15,000, which was provided by local businesses and private donors.

The most noticeable change in the new location will be vastly improved seating, although slightly less of it. The PFC donated the 90 old, uncomfortable seats to a kid’s camp, and Falter drove to San Lois Obispo to pick up 55 new seats, which were donated by the Palm Theater. An additional 15 seats from the Bay Street location were installed, bringing capacity to 70 with more room between rows.

“You will not believe how much legroom is in there,” Falter said.

The theater will also feature an all-digital high-definition projector, which Falter said was a necessity for the location to stay in business. Paying for the prep work associated with 35mm film, as well as keeping projectors maintained and keeping qualified projectionists on staff was extremely costly, Falter said.

Switching to digital will help the Limelight keep costs down, utilizing a new Proludio system that allows independent theaters to securely transfer high-definition movies from a central server without incurring the expenses normally associated with digital content. The theater pays for the rights to show the movie, then uses a key to download and play the movies for a period of time. Then, the pre-show content, trailers and movie can be queued and played via tablet computer by a single PFC employee.

The Limelight will be the second cinema in the nation to use the Proludio system, said Steve Herring, an executive from Proludio.

The first film to be played in the cinema will be “Hobo with a Shotgun,” a gory action piece in the vein of Quintin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse productions. Falter expects that niche movies such as this, combined with membership discounts and perks for students should appeal to younger audiences.

For more information on the Pickford Film Center and Limelight Cinema, visit Pickfordcinema.org or call (360) 738-0735.

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