- Grove City, Pennsylvania

Local News

December 6, 2013

Going digital puts Guthrie on the map

GROVE CITY — The Guthrie Theatre premiered its digital projector with an early opening of the anticipated sequel to “The Hunger Games” – amazing those in the historic theater’s seats with the image quality it produces.

“Effie was on the screen and you could count her eyelashes,” said Paula Thomas, speaking of a character in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” She is co-owner of the downtown Grove City moviehouse with her husband, Eric Thomas.

“We’re really excited,” said their son, Ryan Thomas, about the theater’s new 400-pound, Sony 4K projector that was installed a week ago.

The year it took to get the projector was “well worth the wait,” Paula Thomas said.

The Sony 4K has 4,000 lines of resolution, which is the next generation in digital movie quality that outshines the standard 2K, Ryan Thomas said. “You will hear a lot about 4K in the next few years. It’s a big deal, and we’re hoping people will come away pleased.”

“The Hunger Games” was in 2K, but “Catching Fire” is 4K. “The picture is that much more crisp, clear and saturated,” he added. “It looks really phenomenal.”

The Guthrie is the first movie theater in Pennsylvania to have the 4K model, his dad said. The theater is at 232 S. Broad St.

“People are really excited,” Paula Thomas said. “It’s going to be awesome.”

The double feature was offered to theaters with digital projectors a day earlier than the regular premiere of “Catching Fire” last Friday, Eric Thomas said. 

About 700 tickets were sold between all three shows, he added. The sequel will remain at the Guthrie for at least two weeks; the first “Hunger Games” was only offered opening night.

A year ago, the Thomases began the campaign “Seatbacks for Greenbacks” to raise money for the digital projector. Theaters have been forced to convert from 35mm film to digital projectors as digital movies are becoming industry standard.

Nearly $30,000 was raised by offering patrons a chance to put their name or business name on the backs of the theater’s seats.

Ryan Thomas said about 62 of the 400 seats are sold.

With half the money for the estimated $60,000 projector installation, it seemed time to make a move, he said.

“My dad and I talked it out and we said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ We couldn’t do a soft rollout like a kid’s movie. We may as well do it right, to do it with ‘The Hunger Games’ (series) in digital the first time.”

With single-screen, small movie houses – and what’s left of drive-in theaters – closing down because they can’t afford the conversion, the Thomases feel blessed. “The community really came together to support the Guthrie with all the money raised for the projector,” Eric Thomas said. A loan was secured for the balance but more money is coming in.

“We’re well on our way,” he noted.

Grove City College has given half of an undisclosed donation to the Guthrie’s campaign and Wendell August just released an ornament of downtown Grove City with the Guthrie in the forefront, Eric Thomas said. The ornaments are $20 and half of the proceeds go toward the projector cost. They can be purchased at the Guthrie and some downtown businesses, as well as Wendell August locations.

“We’re very appreciative”  to the college and Wendell August, Ryan Thomas said. “If we go over (the goal), the money will go back into the theater. We’re just caretakers here. Our goal is to keep the lights on and to keep her nice and shiny.”

The 26-year-old grew up in the theater with his sisters Olivia, 20, and Gracie, 11. Their parents bought the Guthrie 12 years ago. Besides the projector, the theater has seen a number of improvements under the Thomases’ ownership, including upgraded speakers, amplifiers and a processor. The original ceilings under the marquee and in the ticket/concessions area were opened and improved. The ceiling above the balcony is new – which, in the old days, was known for its many bats. Most of the electrical has been replaced; there’s also new lighting. The stage was extended; new stained glass was replaced above the exit signs in the house.

Awnings were replaced over the office entry and Lapa’s Barber Shop building, which the Thomases own as well. There’s an apartment rental above the theater, too. “We’ve painted the marquee twice,” Ryan Thomas added. The Thomases want to put parts of the old, historic projector on display in the office window, Paula Thomas said.

Without the support of the community in buying the Sony 4K, “We’d be closed by the end of the year. We’re very grateful,” Eric Thomas added. “But buying it doesn’t guarantee our success. People still need to come to the movies.”

Learn more about the Guthrie and its Seatbacks for Greenbacks campaign at or call 724-458-9420.

Published Nov. 23, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

Text Only
Local News
  • gc farm mkt produce table1.jpg Farm fresh

    The Olde Town Grove City Farmers' Market was packed with shoppers and vendors on Thursday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drilling violations, actions reported

    Six violations and 42 permits for local gas and oil drilling were issued in June by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

    July 29, 2014

  • Board action, CAN will help locals

    Grove City school directors on Monday approved a request made by two nonprofits that will further help local families, and they touched on an issue concerning administrative employees' work schedules.

    July 29, 2014

  • live united fire merkel.jpg Local live United

    The Grove City Area United Way is kicking off a summer campaign that features locals who are examples of how to "Live United."

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • gina burger-file.jpg Police: 'Cool customer' arrested in girl's murder

    An Ohio man charged in the murder of Gina Marie Burger, 16 - whose body was found at Tri-County Industries waste transfer station in Pine Township June 25 - stuffed her body in a playpen bag and carried it past her mother before disposing of the remains in the trash, police said.

    July 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Public questions Rock band director's position

    Slippery Rock school board members on Monday heard from several people who were concerned about the marching band director's position, which has been opened up for anyone to apply.

    July 11, 2014

  • Budget includes tax hike for new teachers

    Property taxes in the Slippery Rock Area School District are going up by 3.62 mills for the 2014-15 school year to cover the cost of hiring four new teachers.

    July 11, 2014

  • Twp. running out of capacity

    Springfield Township is running out of wastewater capacity.

    July 11, 2014

  • cat with owner.jpg Mobile cat clinic curbs overpopulation

    For the sixth year in a row, Grove City Area Pet Rescue has teamed up with Animal Friends of Pittsburgh to offer a low-cost spay/neuter clinic for cats through a mobile unit set up in Plain Grove Township.

    July 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • rock fairy read bloom fair.jpg The Rock blooms under judges' eyes

    America in Bloom judges Katy Moss Warner and Barbara Vincentsen liked what they saw in the Slippery Rock area, where they spent three days evaluating a year's worth of work done by Slippery Rock in Bloom members and volunteers.

    July 3, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide