Christmas is still a few weeks away, but a package delivery last week on the Memphis square definitely had passersby pondering how Santa was going to be able to get that down a chimney.
Nearly a dozen workers combined with several local volunteers and the forklift from Memphis Lumber unloaded the huge crate from the semi in front of the Memphis Theatre on Wednesday, December 5th. Only fitting,since it was a present for movie goers, a new screen for the cinema.
With a screen width of 31 feet, the crate proved a challenge not only to unload, but to get into the building, as it was loaded on wheeled carts, and had to be spun, temporarily stopping traffic on Madison Street as the box extended across both lanes of traffic to allow it to enter the front doors.
Once in the building, installers all the way from Jackson, Mississippi worked on uncrating the new screen and also began removal of the existing movie screen.
The new screen is manufactured by MDI, with a Franklin roll down frame. It measures 31 feet wide and 13 feet tall and includes a mechanized lift to raise and lower the screen into place.
“That is going to be a big improvement,” said Dr.Harlo Donelson. “We raised and lowered the old screen by hand with a rope and pulley system.”
Representatives of Sonic Equipment Company in Kansas, the screen’s retailer, noted it won’t be the only improvement the theater experiences. The cleaner, brighter screen should produce a more enjoyable viewing experience for moviegoers. It will replace the original screen that had been in service for nearly 25 years.
The upgrade came with roughly a $33,000 price tag, marking the second significant investment in the cinema’s equipment in recent history.Back in 2012, the Memphis Cinema transitioned from its old 35mm projection setup to a modern digital projector and sound system at a cost of approximately$70,000.
“It is simply amazing what we have been able to do when we’re charging $2 movie admission and only charged $0.50 for candy and popcorn at the concession stand for so many years,” said Donelson. “You have to stop and think about all of the people over the years who have volunteered and who have come out to support the theatre to help accomplish this.”