By Caitlin Switzer
CRESTED BUTTE—When Mark and Ali Drucker opened Crested Butte’s Majestic Theatre (located in the Majestic Center, next to Clark’s Market) in 2005, they were determined to personalize the movie expe- rience, adding creative touches that reflect the spirit of the locale. So when they were recently faced with an industry-wide con- version to digital projection, it should come as no surprise that the young entre- preneurs responded once again with crea- tivity.
“It is pretty much predicted that the 35 mm film will no longer be available by 2013,” Mark Drucker said. “It was a mas- sive project for us; we needed to invest $215,000 in new projection equipment, so naturally it had to be financed.”
With the help of funding from Crested Butte Bank and the Region 10 Business Loan Fund, the conversion was accom- plished.
“We purchased the equipment, convert- ed, and we are up and running,” Drucker said. “We will be able to stay in business—if we had not been able to get the financing, we would have been forced to close. Crested Butte Bank was first on board, but they were not in a position to finance the whole thing, so Region 10 was integral in allowing this to happen. ”
Next, to come up with the required 20 percent down payment, the Druckers cre- ated a pledge drive to allow movie fans to help with the conversion effort.
“We are a for-profit business, and sur- vive off our concession and ticket sales,” Drucker said. “We were really honest with our customers and the community, and told them we needed to raise the funds. We created a web site- www.savethemajestic.com– that would allow people to pledge money, and receive services in return—things like discounted tickets, movie passes, private party rentals, and popcorn.”
The site raised $23,000 in two and half days, he said.
“We were just shocked,” Drucker said. “It really worked out well for everybody— those who pledged earned rewards of good
value. And it was truly amazing that the support came from both full and part-time residents—they helped us to stay open.”
The Druckers also own the Ruby Cinema at the University Center at Western State in Gunnison. Between the two theaters, they have 11 employees—eight at the Ma- jestic and three at Ruby Cinema.
“Our employees rely on the theater for income, and we do too,” Drucker said. “At first, I felt funny about asking for help— but being honest really helped.”