News Column

Forest Theater goes digital, opens new options

July 11, 2013

YellowBrix

July 11--After Cornelius 9 Cinemas went digital in April, Robert Perkins realized his last holdout for 35-mm film, Forest Theater, had met its match.

It had become nearly impossible to get movies on film, and many of the ones that came in had a lower quality picture thanks to years of wear and tear. Meanwhile in Cornelius, the digital conversion had amped up the quality of the movies being shown and opened up new options, like Spanish subtitles on popular features.

So last month Perkins, who owns both Cornelius 9 Cinemas and Forest Theater in Forest Grove, converted the single-screen Forest Theater to digital. That meant installing a new projector and sound equipment, the latest additions in what has been a multi-year upgrade. During the past couple years, Perkins said he has also updated the seats, put in special paneling to improve acoustics and added state-of-the-art sound equipment.

"It really does change the quality of the presentations," he said.

Digital has also opened the door for more variety at the small local theater. For example, Perkins has started playing two shows a week with Spanish subtitles and plans to acquire Spanish-made films in the future, he said.

"We feel that the Spanish-speaking market is underserved," Perkins said. "This certainly will diversify the offerings."

Perkins said he will also be able to get more classic movies that are hard to snag on film along with one-time events like sports games and concerts.

Large groups have asked to rent out the theater in the past in order to watch a particular movie, such as The Princess Bride or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But Perkins was limited in what he could get on film. Even when he found something, the film had often been worn down over years of use.

"With digital, every show is like the first time," he said. "It's just pristine."

Though the theater is seeing upgrades, Perkins said he plans to maintain the ambiance of the old building on Pacific Avenue. It's a beautiful building with a lot of history and character, he said, but now it's updated with modern movie equipment on the inside.

--Kari Bray

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(c)2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

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