Vintage businesses face struggle with changing technologies

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By Eric Finkler

Grand Ledge Gazette staff writer

GRAND LEDGE, MI – As the years go by small, historic businesses struggle to continue with technology updates.

Chuck Pantera, brought up the issue up at Monday’s city council meeting as the owner of the Sun Theater, a small, vintage movie venue of Grand Ledge.

Sun Theatre, local movie theater faces tough decisions as film industry changes to digital film

Changing of the medium:

The movie industry is no longer supporting film because of its cost and is switching to only digital film. For small time theater owners like Pantera, these costs could mean the end of his business.

Changing the 35 millimeter film projector into digital film will cost Pantera more around $64,000 and at his current ticket price of $2 per ticket he doesn’t think he will gain enough profit to pay for the transfer and worries it will cause the theatre to go out of business.

Plans for paying:

“This is a little theatre,” said Pantera, “we offer a service for the community as a place for teens to hang out and adults to have a night for themselves sometimes. I don’t want to raise the ticket price on them.”

Pantera is hoping a fundraiser and help from the Downtown Development Center will help him pay for the digital film equipment.

The facility manager of Grand Ledge Opera House, another historic building with ties of old business, said that most of their earnings are donations, besides hosting weddings and parties.

Pantera has hosted parties as well, like the annual Rocky Horror Picture Show party Sun Theatre throws every year around Halloween where customers are encouraged to come and dress in drag. On Saturday the theatre was hosting its very first piano recital as well.


This new digital switch comes just a year after Pantera held a fundraiser for a new marquee. Building it himself he tried cutting costs as much as possible so the theater would have more money for events and concessions.

Community support:

Mayor Kalmin Smith believes the city government will help him, but the issue is set for the next municipal meeting.

“I know it seems to be of consensus on the city government board that we should help the Sun Theatre,” said Mayor Smith, “Not only does it bring people to downtown Grand Ledge, but it also encourages business for local restaurants.”

Mayor Smith notes that the Sun Theatre and surrounding local restaurants have a designated Dinner and Movie night that offers a discount on food with the purchase of a movie ticket.

Eric Finkler may be reached at

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