Hipp Cinema celebrates switch from analog to digital

Alisha Kinman, cinema director and director of development at the Hippodrome Theatre, is shown in the Hippodrome Cinema, which will be revamped with proceeds from a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund the cinema’s digital upgrade.

Katie Campbell/Correspondent
Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 11:08 a.m.

After nearly 33 years of delivering an alternative cinema experience using a vintage analog projector, the Hippodrome Cinema is going digital, and the upgrade is being celebrated in style.



What: Screening of the 1942 classic film to celebrate the Hipp Cinema’s change to digital
When: 2 p.m. Sunday (Saturday’s 6 p.m. “Cocktails & Casablanca” event is sold out)
Where: Hippodrome Cinema, 25 SE Second Place
Tickets: $10, include a complimentary bag of popcorn
Info: 375-4477, Thehipp.org

With the help of a 60-day 2013 Kickstarter campaign and a $25,000 cultural-facilities grant from the state, the Hippodrome raised more than $40,000 to purchase a Digital Cinema Package. To thank the community for its continued support of the theater, the Hippodrome planned an evening event called “Cocktails & Casablanca” on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Hippodrome Cinema.

The event sold out within five days, said Jessica Hurov, the Hippodrome’s director of communications.

To accommodate those without tickets for Saturday’s showing, the theater received permission from Warner Bros. Entertainment to hold a second screening on Sunday at 2 p.m. Seventy-six additional tickets for this showing are $10 and include free popcorn.

Hurov and the Hippodrome staff came together to plan the night of old Hollywood glamour, featuring the classic film “Casablanca,” the first film to be shown digitally at the theater.

“We would not be here if the community didn’t support us,” Hurov said. “We have always, through the years, been overwhelmed by the generosity and the commitment of the people of Gainesville to supporting our program.”

Hurov said the classic film “Casablanca” was the perfect choice for the evening. Not only does the 1942 film represent the guiding principles of theater — storytelling and acting — but it also shows the community what the new technology is capable of.

Alisha Kinman, cinema director and director of development at the Hippodrome, said, “Going forward doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t pay tribute and respect to older, classic films because that’s really the foundation of where films are today.”

Hurov said whether donors gave $10 or $200, they were a part of the crowd-funding effort that ultimately allowed the cinema to keep its doors open. A total of $16,957 was raised through Kickstarter by 173 donors, surpassing the $15,000 goal.

The additional funds will be used to remodel the cinema itself.

Adam Jalali gave $50 to the online campaign. In his eyes, it was easy to donate to what he called “the most important cultural institution in Gainesville.”

“It’s only at the Hippodrome that the foreign, art house and documentary films I love get the time and attention that they deserve,” Jalali said. “As much as I love celluloid, going digital is a necessity to keep up with the growing demands of film distributors.”

Hurov said though she couldn’t have known just how successful the campaign was going to be, the Hippodrome is able to enjoy a certain level of confidence because of its supporters.

She called the theater a “grassroots organization” and a “cultural icon” of Gainesville that provides more than a disengaged trip to the movies.

“It’s not an impersonal experience where you just purchase a ticket, get your popcorn and leave,” she said. “We’re a community that really responds to intellectual stimulation and responds to going behind the story. And that’s what we’re doing.”

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