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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Walter Reade Theater. To celebrate this milestone, we’re undertaking a series of updates and renovations that will help keep the theater at the forefront of film-exhibition technology. We need your help with a crucial piece of this process, replacing the theater’s screen, and we’ve decided to use Kickstarter to help raise the money.

The renovation project started last summer, when we rescued the lobby’s beautiful black-and-white marble floor from under a layer of carpeting. This summer, we’ll be closing the theater for two months to make long-overdue upgrades to lighting, sound, and electrical systems and replace the screen and masking. Next summer, we’ll turn our attention to the projection booth, where we’ll be tuning up our 35mm projectors, getting new 4K digital projectors, and cutting a new window that will allow us to bring 16mm back to the theater.

Why do we need a new screen? Theater screens accumulate dirt over time, which can dull the picture quality. The current screen is more than a decade old and the time has come to send it off to retirement. A new screen will mean a brighter, clearer picture and will augment the updates in the projection booth to ensure that you’re seeing films exactly how they’re meant to be seen.

These efforts are a major investment in the future of the Walter Reade. As such, we need the help of our members, patrons, and New York City movie lovers to make it all happen. Earlier this year, some of our most dedicated supporters got us started by naming seats in the historic theater. Throughout that process, we heard time and time again from people that they wanted to be involved in preserving this theater that they love, but at a more modest price tag. That’s why we’ve decided to go the route of crowdfunding for the next stage of the project.

Kickstarter is all about a community of people coming together to support something they love. Our campaign, which runs through July 8, lets you chip in as little as $1 to help us reach our goal of $50,000. We’re offering a bunch of cool rewards, including movie tickets, memberships, vintage Film Comment issues and NYFF posters, a limited-edition tote bag, and more. But most importantly, your support means that the Walter Reade can continue to be one of the best places in the world to watch movies for decades to come.

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In getting ready to celebrate the Walter Reade Theater’s 25th anniversary, we stumbled across some old Hi8 tapes of the theater’s construction from 1990-1991. Shot by our late chief projectionist Don Schul and starring former Film Society programmer (and amateur comedian) Marian Masone, the tapes offer a time capsule of the birth of the theater. We hope you enjoy this highlight reel of some of the best moments from more than three hours of footage, edited by Lewie Kloster.

Read Indiewire’s chat with our Executive Director Lesli Klainberg and Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez, who talked about why we chose to use Kickstarter: “It’s a great way for us to engage and enlist the support of people who come here for movies every single day.”

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we stumbled across this vintage trailer for the Walter Reade Theater, made in 1993, just two years after it was built. We got in touch with the trailer’s creator, Robert Lyons, who shared some memories about the project. Read more.

We also put together a brief history of the planning and opening of the Walter Reade Theater in 1991.

Click here to learn more and donate today!