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Help Save Springerville’s Historic El Rio Theatre

Springerville's El Rio Theatre (then called the Apache Theatre)

Springerville’s El Rio Theatre (then called the Apache Theatre) | Courtesy of Laura Preder

Springerville’s El Rio Theatre (formerly the Apache Theatre) opened in 1915, so its 100th birthday would be next year. But it might not make it that far without a little help.

Considered Arizona’s oldest active movie house, the El Rio needs to update to digital projection now that 35 mm film is going out of style. Supporters of the theater are trying to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter to make that update a reality and keep the single-screen, 288-seat theater in business. From the Kickstarter page:

Locally, no one wants the El Rio Theatre to close its doors in this tiny rural community where the next movie theater is over 50 miles away by two-lane road.The bottom line, however, is that without movie distribution, the El Rio Theatre is a theater in name only. Round Valley residents have overwhelmingly expressed support and pitched in where possible to help save the El Rio Theater but our efforts have fallen short. Based on the approximately $100,000 needed to upgrade the projection and sound systems combined with some basic interior remodeling and electrical improvements needed to accommodate the equipment, we find ourselves with a shortfall of about $50,000 that we are looking to raise through the generous contributions of patrons of the fine arts like you.This is your one opportunity to help preserve one of the truly historic Arizona movie houses and to ensure that it reaches its 100th birthday and celebrates its centennial anniversary next year.

If you’re a fan of historic movie theaters, or if you’d just like to see Springerville and Eagar keep their only movie house, please consider contributing to the restoration effort. The Kickstarter campaign continues through August 13.

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