With nearly two weeks to go, The Starlight Theatre & Cafe on Nantucket Island has met and exceeded their Kickstarter pledge drive goal of $92,500.00. As of Saturday, March 16, they are well on their way to $100,000.00 with more than 685 backers!
Mark Watson and Jeff Weiner sat down with us on Thursday, when they still needed $5,100 to reach their goal, for chat about their efforts to raise the money to upgrade to a digital projector for their small island theater. Over the last few years the movie industry has moved away from 35mm films towards digital, and The Starlight has found it increasingly difficult to book movies. “They used to print thousands of copies of their movie on 35 mm; lately they’ve just been making about 500 copies … Why would [the distributors] send their film to a theatre like ours with just 90 seats when they can send it to a theater with 400 seats… And the studios say that by the end of this year, 35mm will no longer be available,” Mark explained.
Mark, Jeff, Deb, and Susan, the family who owns The Starlight, talked about ways to raise the tens of thousands of dollars needed to upgrade to digital. It was islander Jimmy Agnew who suggested that they try to raise the money using Kickstarter.
“Getting accepted by Kickstarter wasn’t easy,” Jeff explained, “we worked hard on it, got creative, and got approval.” They weren’t sure how the campaign would go. “We launched it on the Friday that school vacation started,” Mark added, “Everyone left the island on the 5:30pm boat, and we launched at 6 pm.”
“That first night, we checked it at the end of the night and thought ‘this might just work’,” Jeff commented. Their first donation was not the $5 or $10 they expected, it was $125. With social media spurring on the campaign, it just snowballed. “We even got donations from people who had never been here, but liked what we were trying to do,” said Mark. “It’s been overwhelming!”
“If we exceed our goal,” Mark said yesterday, “we’ll just keep improving the theatre to make it a better experience for our customers.” Jeff and Mark both gave us a few hints on some fun and exciting ideas they have for The Starlight, but they swore us to secrecy. We’ll just have to wait and see! But for now, thanks to its many friends and fans, The Starlight movie theatre has been saved as a beloved island landmark.
If you’d like to help the Starlight, you can visit their Kickstarter page.