Alliance Emerging for old theaters

Network to use satellite-fed digital systems

The League of Historic American Theaters has established a strategic alliance with New York-based Emerging Pictures, for the promotion of a national network of satellite-fed digital cinemas, some of which are to be housed in restored historic movie palaces.

LHAT and Emerging Pictures plan to install state-of-the-art digital projection systems and satellite receivers to enable member venues to present independent and international dramatic and nonfiction feature films.

Alternate content such as live HDTV closed-circuit broadcasts and pre-recorded classical and pop music concerts, theatrical productions, lectures and other presentations and corporate events will be available at member venues. Emerging Pictures will provide the technology and the content in a digital format to selected venues.

“The mission of LHAT is to assist communities and, in some cases, local entrepreneurs, in their efforts to rescue, restore, and reuse classic American movie theaters,” said Terry Demas, executive director of the Baltimore-based LHAT.

Rebo tops Emerging

Emerging Pictures is led by Barry Rebo, a television producer and longtime champion of digital technologies such as HDTV; Ira Deutchman, a 25-year veteran of specialty film production, exhibition and distribution and founder of Cinecom and Fine Line Features; and home theater/consumer electronics exec Giovanni Cozzi.

“We’re thrilled to work with LHAT to bring the newest digital technologies to the classic American movie palaces of old,” Rebo said. “For many, this will be a return to their original callings as cinemas, since many LHAT members have ceased to show films on a regular basis. Most are now used primarily as live performing arts centers. Many venues have told us they would love to return to showing movies to their communities, especially the arthouse fare that is often not available in the immediate surroundings. It’s just the perfect marriage of classic theaters, new technologies and terrific content that makes this an important endeavor, on a national as well as a local level.”

Added Deutchman, “Emerging Pictures and its LHAT-associated venue partners hope to broaden the national audience for quality cinema and to provide an alternative to the multiplex experience. Leading specialty distributors such as Miramax, Sony Classics and United Artists have pledged their support and their willingness to supply selected films to the network.”

LHAT, founded in 1976, is a network of people who appreciate the cultural and architectural heritage of historic theaters and who work to rescue, restore and reuse them in North America and abroad.

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