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Dormont theater's online fundraising campaign brings in nearly $17,000

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 12:43 a.m.

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont wrapped up its online fundraiser late last month with a take of nearly $17,000, including $3,000 brought in during a last-minute frenzy over 48 hours.

The theater's “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign on indiegogo.com raised $16,567 toward its $70,000 goal. The nonprofit running the single-screen movie house wants to use the funds to buy a digital projection system. The next phase of the fundraising campaign will include seeking donations from corporations and foundations.

“It shows we have people in Dormont, in the South Hills and in the Pittsburgh area who are supporting the Hollywood and what we stand for,” said Chad Hunter, managing director of the theater. “I think I can point to this, and I can point to the fundraiser we did with ‘Night of the Living Dead,' and I can say to potential corporate donors that we have the support of the community.”

Hunter said 304 people donated through the website, with the average donation totaling $55. The theater signed up more than 100 new “members,” who get perks such as discounted tickets, free concessions and invitations to special events in exchange for a donation.

“It exceeded my expectations,” said Scott Jackson, president of the theater's board. “I'm even more happy to see it was spread out among more than 300 donors, most making small donations.”

Movie distribution companies are phasing out the 35 mm film and DVD/Blu-Ray discs that the Hollywood is equipped to play. Hunter believes upgrading to a system of digital files on portable hard drives and servers attached to projectors is the only way the Hollywood can remain viable.

Distributors are already prohibiting certain movies from being shown in theaters using DVD/Blu-Ray, leading to the end of the Hollywood's long-standing midnight sing-along showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Though the online campaign alone couldn't reach the $70,000 goal, Hunter has more fundraisers planned: an April 7 showing of “Annie” sponsored by local Girl Scouts; an April 13 benefit showing of “Earth Girls are Easy”; the April 26 Steel City Secret Cinema art show; a May 3 gala celebrating the Hollywood's second anniversary as a nonprofit; and a May 11 “Battle of the Bands.”

On March 2, a special screening of “Night of the Living Dead” — the 1968 George Romero film that began Pittsburgh's long association with zombies in pop culture — was accompanied by music, meet-and-greets with cast members, raffles and auctions to benefit the theater.

“We're hoping that by the end of the summer or fall, we'll have our digital projector,” he said.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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