Manlius Art Cinema to enter a new era

Central New York’s oldest movie theater is about to undergo its most significant transition since it converted to sound almost 80 years ago.
Manlius (WSYR-TV) - Central New York’s oldest movie theater is about to undergo its most significant transition since it converted to sound almost 80 years ago.

On Sunday night, The Manlius Art Cinema will show its last movie on film. The theater will join the digital world by converting its system next week. The theater will be closed Monday through Thursday next week and open again on Friday.

“It is an awesome experience – daunting in some ways, very exciting in others, but we’re anxious to get converted and up and running,” said Manlius Arts Cinema proprietor Nat Tobin. “It’s going to be a whole new ballgame.”

Tobin says the theater is spending about $70,000 for the upgrade out of necessity. He says at least one major film company will stop producing 35 millimeter prints by the end of next year. Tobin says that aside from staying in the movie business, the switch will allow the theater to show things like ballets, operas, and concerts that it can’t offer now.

The theater’s long-time enthusiasts are looking forward to the transition.

“I’ve always loved going there,” said Joanne Rehfield. “I think it’s very unique. He gets up there and talks about the film and upcoming films and films you’re going to be watching. I hope that doesn’t change, but the digital I assume will be great.”

Tobin says the theater will replace the screen and all the speakers. He says the audio should be much better than what they’ve previously offered and he says the people won’t notice a significant difference between the film and digital copies.

The old projectors and platters will be sent to the MOST in Downtown Syracuse.

Tobin says that when the final credit plays, it will be a nostalgic moment for him.

“My wife, Eileen Lowell, and I feel that we have a responsibility to the community to continue bringing films you wouldn’t see at the mall theaters,” he said.

The movie “Bully” will be the final film shown at the Manlius Arts Cinema at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night. Next Friday, its first new movie will be The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

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