Call it grassroots marketing in the Motor City. TCM is lending its feed this weekend to a Halloween-themed fundraiser for the last independent theater left in the heart of Detroit.
Cinema Detroit is run by Paula Guthat, a movie buff and TCM enthusiast who created the “TCMParty” hashtag on Twitter in 2011. That started a periodic live-tweeting effort for a movie airing on the Turner cabler but has since evolved into an 24/7 conversation thread for vintage film fanatics.
Guthat and her husband, Tim Guthat, recently moved their Cinema Detroit operation to a new facility. The theater programs a mix of contemporary indie and arthouse titles along with vintage and cult-fave pics. But Cinema Detroit needs to buy new digital equipment in order to continue screening contemporary movies, which come with encryption that only runs on pricey Digital Cinema Initiatives-compliant equipment. Cinema Detroit launched a crowd funding effort to raise $50,000 to buy a new projector.
To raise awareness of the fundraiser and promote the theater’s new location, Guthat had the idea of an 18-hour horror movie marathon tied to Halloween. TCM’s lineup this weekend was a better collection of horror titles that she could possibly assemble on her own. So Guthat reached out to TCM execs for permission to stream their feed at the theater using her personal authenticated access to the Watch TCM app.
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TCM gave its blessing, and even sent along some swag — coffee cups, T-shirts, etc — to sweeten the pot. So did Warner Bros.’ Warner Archive department, which specializes in vintage film esoterica. And TCM is tweeting news about the fundraiser to its faithful base.
A few hours into the marathon, Guthat said Friday evening that the response from Detroit movie buffs had been a little slow but she expected traffic to pick up later tonight for 1940s horror pics including “Cat People,” “The Body Snatcher,” “The Seventh Victim,” “The Leopard Man,” “The Ghost Ship” and the Martin Scorsese-hosted “Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows” documentary on the low-budget horror-meister.
“We’re very grateful to TCM for allowing us to do this,” Guthat said. “We love their dedication to classic movies and for being so open to working with fans and creating a community surrounding the movies we love all love so much.”
Helping out a theater the caters to film buffs was a no-brainer for the Atlanta-based TCM.
“Passionate fans allow the arts to continue to grow and thrive in local communities, and we’re thrilled when they think first of TCM as they work to keep cinema lovers engaged in both their local and online communities with the magic of movies,” said Shannon Clute, TCM’s director of marketing.