NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 18, 2013

An $108,000 blockbuster for Screening Room

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — The Screening Room, which a month ago appeared to be on the endangered list, has completed its online fund-raising effort to raise $60,000 with a final push that has brought in $108,000.

The money will be used to convert to digital projection equipment, which industry authorities say is essential because distributors and studios are phasing out the use of film.

“The Screening Room’s owners are standing aghast and flabbergasted at the depth of the response,” said Andrew Mungo, the low-key co-owner of the 99-seat venue.

Mungo and Nancy Langsam, also a co-owner, said that “stretch goals” were added when it became clear that initial figured would be reached.

As a result, they will add a sound system and screen. Also, the theater will be painted and recarpeted.

The Screening Room is the city’s only movie theater. The single screen theater on State Street shows movies that are commonly found in “art film” theaters, or featured in independent film festivals. Among the recent showings are Still Mine, Museum Hours, and The Artist and The Model.

The management team used kickstarter.com to generate more than half of the amount, but face-to-face events were also hosted.

Three open houses brought in $2,700. An evening of music at the Grog resulted in revenue of about $1,000, and the Grog management matched that with $1,000.

These events and box office/mail contributions pulled in about $31,000.

About $65,000 was generated from Kickstarter.com. An anonymous matching grant of $12,000 was deposited, and that took the fund over $100,000.

Mungo, though elated, said that the next few weeks will require a mountain of work relating to writing thank you notes and contacting donors about “rewards” they were entitled to for giving.

For instance, close to 100 donors are in line to receive old movie posters.

Those cellar-bound art objects have to be organized and brought upstairs so they can be distributed.

Mungo is asking for volunteers to help him with distributing the goods.

He can be reached at portmovies@aol.com.

More than 600 gave to the cause.

The following were among those who donated $1,000 or more online (the highest multiple barring the anonymous grant): Eileen McCoy, Meg Baird, Judy Morrison, Thomas Smith, Andrew Lintz, Lawrence Tiller, Paul Harrington, Brian Hennessey, Cheryl Richardson, Daniel Balkus, Marie and Michael Hoffman, Beth Welch and Chuck Christiansen and Dorothy Fairweather.

Asked why she gave, Welch said, “The Screening Room is a cultural gem of Newburyport. We love the city and it’s probably on everybody’s list as one of their favorite places in town.

“It has a wonderful history, and it provides an outlet for movies that wouldn’t come to this area otherwise.”