The State Theatre, downtown Modesto's art house cinema, has installed a fancy new sound system that makes it much easier to hear the dialogue said on screen.
To show it off, the 78-year-old venue is offering free matinees of classic films all next week. Admission to evening films is $5. Matinees that will be shown include "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "The Princess Bride," and "Airplane." Evening movies include "Moonrise Kingdom," which came out this year, and "The Godfather."
The films were chosen based on patron suggestions, including some on the State's Facebook site.
"It's us saying we've really made a big change," said Sue Richardson, the State's director. "It's worth having a listen."
The State Theatre installed the new $160,000 Dolby 20-speaker cinema sound system in response to complaints from patrons who had trouble understanding the lines in films. Richardson said some people have stopped coming to the theater because of the problem.
To correct the issue, the State board purchased the new system from the highly regarded Boston Light & Sound company, which provides cinema sound for film festivals around the world, including the Tribeca and Sundance fests.
"The sound I've heard it's amazing," said Patty Halvorson, president of the State board. "It's crisp and clear and you can understand the dialogue."
Halvorson said the State paid for the new system with a combination of donations and loans. "We've had a lot of support by donors who have been very generous and have allowed us to have very little debt," she said.
Board member Brian Gini, vice president and Modesto branch manager at Collins Electric, got his company to help make the electrical upgrades so that the theater could accommodate the new sound system.
"We thought it was a great community project," he said. "It's a great opportunity to help out a nonprofit. They needed to have this so the next generation could enjoy the movie house as well."
He praised fellow board members Randy Siefkin and Rod Lowe for putting their hearts and souls into the project and helping make the new sound system happen.
One thing that greatly improves the sound is that the three big speakers behind the screen are five feet tall, more than twice the size of the previous speakers.
"The general public will be surprised at how great a sound system it is," Gini said.
Celebration of Sound
The following films will be shown during the State Theatre's celebration of its new sound system. Screenings are free unless otherwise noted:
"Little Miss Sunshine" (R) Monday, 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, 12:30 p.m.
"Airplane" (PG) Monday, 2:30 p.m.; Nov. 24, 4:30 p.m.
"Young Frankenstein" (PG) Monday, 4:30 p.m.; Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. Admission $5 for the Nov. 21 showing only
"The Princess Bride" (PG) Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.; Nov. 23, 12:30 p.m.
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (PG-13) Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.; Nov. 23, 2:30 p.m.; Nov. 24, 7 p.m. Admission $5 for the Nov. 24 showing only
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (PG-13) Tuesday,4:30 p.m.; Nov. 21, 4:30 p.m.
"Animal House" (R) Nov. 21, 2:30 p.m.; Nov. 24, 2:30 p.m.
"Psycho" (PG-13) Tuesday, 7 p.m. Admission $5 for the Tuesday showing only; Nov. 23, 4:30 p.m.
"Moonrise Kingdom" (PG-13) Monday, 7 p.m.; Nov. 21, 9 p.m. Admission $5 for the Monday and Nov. 21 showings;Nov. 24, 12:30 p.m.
"The Birds" (PG-13) Nov. 23, 7 p.m. Admission $5
"The Godfather" (R) Tuesday, 9 p.m.; Nov. 23, 9 p.m. Admission $5 for both showings
"Fight Club" (R) Monday, 9 p.m.; Nov. 24, 9 p.m. Admission $5 for both showings.