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Theaters in Grafton, Park River fight to recoup money for digital projectors

At least two communities in northeastern North Dakota may be out tens of thousands of dollars raised for local theater improvements after an equipment supply company filed for bankruptcy.

The Save Our Strand Committee in Grafton has paid $47,000 toward a new digital projector that is long overdue for arrival from Cinema Service and Supply, a Massachusetts-based company.

Park River’s The Lyric Continues committee has paid about $30,000 to the company.

Jack Maus, chairman of the Grafton committee, said the company has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and its assets have been frozen. Both committees have filed consumer complaints against CSS with the North Dakota attorney general’s office.

“We started hearing indications about a month ago,” Maus said. “We kept insisting on setting a date for them to come up and set up the projector.”

The Lyric Theater, which closed this past winter, reopened over the July 4 weekend, showing movies available for its older projection system, she said.

“We’re proceeding with the legal process to try to recoup at least some of our money,” said Laurie Jensen, TLC president in Park River. “We understand there are no guarantees.”

Theaters throughout the country have been forced to switch from 35-millimeter to digital projection over the past couple of years. In many smaller communities, local committees have raised money for the digital equipment in order to keep their theaters open.

Grafton’s Save Our Strand Committee initially raised more than $100,000 to remodel the theater and to purchase one digital projector, which CSS delivered in early 2013, according to Maus.

The committee already has done some major remodeling in the building and has been raising more money to update the theater’s lobby, Maus said.

The $47,000 spent earlier this year was for a projector for Strand 2.

“We’ll continue with the fundraising,” Maus said. “We have other projects we want to do. But we’ll probably wait on the second projector.”

The Park River committee also has remodeled its theater. Jensen said the group will continue to raise funds for the project.

“We feel bad because it’s money that people in the community have given us,” she said. “This is a little bump in the road, and we have to think positively.”

and move forward.”