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"Digital Doomsday" at a theater near you?

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THOMASTON, Ga. -

As far as movies go, it is one of the biggest transitions in decades as theatres are changing over to digital. The cost of conversion has small cinemas scrambling to keep their doors open. A non-profit is trying to save several mom and pop theatres in Georgia and across the country from closing their doors.

In Thomaston, the Ritz Theater, which has been a part of the area's landscape for 85 years, may go dark thanks to what many are calling the Digital Doomsday.

Studios are switching over from the standard 35mm film to a digital form of delivery of new releases. The positive for theaters are that they no longer have to worry about the big bulky cans and switching reels. The digital delivery system uses hard drives instead.

This now makes the current equipment at the Ritz obsolete. The only way they will be able to screen first-run movies for their patrons will be if they upgrade to digital projectors, sound system, and servers.

The new technology is putting pressure on small cinemas across the county. It could run small businesses between $70,000 and $100,000 per screen to covert.

"Save America's Cinemas," a non-profit group founded by producer and director Walter Shaw, is trying to help those locally owner silver screens. His goal is to save 400 theaters at a cost of about $20 million.

Shaw has several actors and producers on-board to help with the efforts by way of monetary donations. The non-profit's real goal is to preserve an American experience.

The last 35mm film print set to be sent out by studios will be released this spring.

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