During its second year since reopening, Beach Theater has upgraded to be a state-of-the-art digital cinema for residents and visitors to enjoy.
The technological move from using ancient 35-millimeter film to being a digital facility in projection and sound happened out of necessity in late September.
"We had a complete makeover," said General Manager Nick Campo. "We had to do it. Sometimes in the next year and a half, Hollywood will stop making 35-millimeter films. So, it was really a matter of doing it or going out of business."
Beach Theater General Manager Nick Campo stands by his state-of-the-art digital cinema equipment. The newly adopted digital food theater at 6425 Estero Blvd. is a must see for quality picture and sound.
Beach Theater, a 272-seat theater that accommodates four viewing rooms and features matinees (starting back in November) and evening movies while offering a full menu plus beer and wine during their shows, now uses a computerized process with NEC's latest projector and Dolby's latest processor with surround sound, new amps and new speakers.
"The sound and the picture is night-and-day different. Bright, perfect and rock-solid," said Campo. "It's nice, and a big change on how we do our business. The quality is ridiculous. It is so perfect."
Instead of receiving the old-fashion intermittent reel-to-reel style film, where the intermittent process would involve 18 frames every second, the process is easier production-wiser and cleaner for the business with hard drives. There are no longer the physical starts to movies or rethreading of the past.
"Before they used to send us 35mm roles. We'd get six of them to a film, splice them all together, put them on a platter and then run that film through a projector. It would get scratched and beat up, and the picture would constantly bounce and would be hard to keep focus," said Campo. "Now, when the movie comes in, we plug the hard drives into drive readers and load it into our main server. We tell it which trailer previews we want, put two or three of those on the front, put the movie on there, tell it where the queues are going to be, save it and transfer to whichever projector we want to use it on. Then, we tell it to run it at what time we want, and we're done literally for the week."
Beach Theater, located at 6425 Estero Blvd., closed for two weeks during late September to replace the old equipment with the new equipment.
During one week, we broke down all of the equipment, took it out and literally sent it to a scrap yard. There was zero value to it because everybody is converting. I do have a few processors I'll try to sell but, for the most part, 95 percent of the materials were scrapped," said Campo. "Then the new equipment was delivered. It's like watching a movie on your computer."
Estero Island's only movie theater reopened in May 2011 after closing for the prior seven months. Economic struggles closed the popular Beach business but, after reassessment, the operation restarted.
Currently, other changes in the infrastructure are in the works.
"We are going to make the lobby more of a caf type of feel. We are thinking of moving the entrance to where the ticket booth is and possibly have customers choose what movie they want first, sit down and then sell them a ticket," said Campo. "We still have ideas to make the rooms more intimate with the seating.
Competition is getting tough. We need to keep up."
Parent company Marco Movies was the original first-run food theater in the U.S. When Beach Theater opened 11 years ago, it became the first chain food theater.
"We've always tried to stay ahead of the curve. Now, we are really starting to look outside the box," said Campo. "We may even want to open a caf downstairs or even serve breakfast. Why not? We have the license."
The company is beginning to do television monitor advertisings around the Beach. It has one set up inside the theater and some in elevators inside local condominiums such as Gulfview Manor Resort.
"We're trying to keep people on the Beach," said Campo. "We like to promote these businesses on the south end of the island."
Ticket prices will include $10 for adults; $7.50 for seniors and children under 12; and $8 for matinees. A noon show may also be available during season.
For more information, call 765-3333. To listen to the movie lineup, call 765-9000.
Future blockbuster movies before the end of the year to appear at Beach Theater include Cloud Atlas, Skyfall, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Down, Rise of the Guardians, Jack Reacher and Django Unchained.