Barrington’s Catlow Theater reopens with digital technology
Catlow Theater co-owners Tim O'Connor and Roberta Rapata at the theater in July, before the new screen, sound and projection upgrades were installed. | Dave Shields~For Sun-Times Media.
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:14AM
BARRINGTON — The historic Catlow Theater reopened Dec. 21 with a brand new screen and upgraded sound system.
After the two-day installation, Catlow co-owner Tim O’Connor boasted that the theater’s advanced production technology is a huge improvement over the previous screen and sound system.
“We have a brand new screen and digital production and surround sound,” O’Connor said. “So it’s quite a big difference.”
Despite the technological modernization, O’Connor promised that the Catlow still offers the ambience of the 1927 movie theater — and tickets remain $5.
Co-owner Roberta Rapata added that theater patrons have been very impressed with the upgrades. Because the Catlow is an older, single-screen movie house, Rapata said many guests did not expect the experience of large multiplexes.
“People are just astounded,” Rapata said. “It’s a much better picture and much better sound.”
Just four days before Christmas, the theater reopened with a showing of The Polar Express.
Two weeks later, O’Connor said the theater is already experiencing a boost in ticket sales.
“Word about it spread in Barrington and to the surrounding communities,” he said. “The colors are so vibrant and the sound just takes you right into the movie.”
Highlighting the new screen, Rapata explained that screens are held together by small threads, and that over time, those threads can become frayed, decreasing the picture quality.
“The screen needed to be replaced,” Rapata said. “It had been up there for about 30 years.”
Rapata explained that small details, such as a license plate number on a car, were sometimes difficult to see with the old projection system and screen.
“It matters to people,” she said. “Now, you go in and there’s nothing you can’t see.”
The upgrades were made possible by a community fund-raising campaign.
Utilizing Kickstarter, an Internet site in which individuals and businesses can pitch ideas and ask for funding, Rapata and O’Connor were able to raise the necessary $80,000. They reached the fund-raising goal in just seven days with help from people all over the world. Most of the support, however, was provided by Barrington residents.
“This is just a great effort by the community,” Rapata said.
The effort began last September after film studios nationwide required all movie theaters to install digital equipment.
O’Connor said upgrades like new screens, surround sound and digital production are necessary in order to compete with newer, multi-screen theaters.
“This is the future for movie distribution,” O’Connor said. “So it was either get on board or get left behind.”
The Catlow is currently screening the new James Bond movie, “Skyfall.”