FilmScene Make a Scene - Build a Downtown Iowa City Cinema

Iowa City is a remarkable place. But we're missing something...movies! Together we can build a new cinema and bring movies back downtown!


With the incredible support of the film fans far and wide, our campaign has exceeded its goal with time still on the clock. Every extra dollar helps us curate more exciting and engaging programming and builds an operating reserve to ensure our long-term success.

We're now one of Iowa's biggest crowdfunding campaigns ever. Thank you!

FilmScene will open an intimate 80-seat cinema and lounge in the heart of downtown Iowa City this fall. This community-supported endeavor was created to meet the vocal demand of Iowa Citians and to fill a hole in our cultural fabric. We need your help to do it right!

We've come a long way and have a terrific space nearly ready to go. Now we are calling on the entire community to raise $75,000 (more would be even better!) by September 8 to help purchase the cinema and cafe equipment needed to ensure FilmScene offers a first-rate moviegoing experience.

We need your help, and in return you'll get some great rewards, plus part of every donation is tax-deductible because we're a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Take a tour of the progress we've made with your help.

This $75,000 is part of FilmScene's overall fundraising total of more than $200,000. We're already more than halfway to our goal via personal donations and in-kind support from key project partners like the University of Iowa's Bijou Cinema and development partner Moen Group. Additionally, we've achieved significant savings where possible, such as by salvaging seats from the former Hancher Auditorium.

FilmScene Scene 1 buildout is progressing every day.

All or nothing!

Our IndieGoGo campaign is all-or-nothing, so if we don't reach our goal of $75,000 by September 8, we get nothing. Not a penny. Zip, zilch, nada. And you don't get your fantastic rewards.

That's why we're calling on all of you to help us out with a donation and by spreading the word.

An early rendering of the Scene 1 lobby space


An offer you can't refuse.

For two years we've poured thousands of hours of volunteer labor into crafting a strong organization dedicated to cinema. We've formed partnerships and raised tens of thousands of dollars. We have the space and the vision to give Iowa City a better moviegoing experience. Now all we need is you.

Your support will earn you some great rewards, but most importantly it means a fantastic new movie theater on Iowa City's Ped Mall.

We will use IndieGoGo funds to help pay for:

  • Professional digital cinema system featuring industry-standard DCP projection;
  • Audio equipment for top-notch Dolby Digital Surround Sound;
  • Dolby 3D screening technology for a shaper, clearer 3D image;
  • Cinema screen and screen frame to fill our theater with glorious images from talented filmmakers from around the globe;
  • Acoustical treatments to ensure a great-sounding and sharp-looking space.

Our seats were saved from a trip to the landfill!Our seats were saved from a trip to the landfill!

Your contributions will help turn a movie theater into a can't miss experience. More than just a place to watch a film, Scene 1 will also host:

  • A cafe with seating for 50 and projection capabilities. Grab a beer or glass of wine and discuss the film after the credits roll.
  • A rooftop patio for special events and unique outdoor screenings, a one-of-a-kind experience in Iowa City.
  • The best in American independent and international filmmaking and a variety of classic films, family films, late-night movies and genre films. 
  • Special guests and unique events, like the upcoming Alloy Orchestra performance and WALK THE LINE screening with John Carter Cash.

FilmScene's mission

FilmScene is a 501(c)(3) community-minded nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the cultural vitality of the Iowa City area through the presentation and discussion of film as an art form. 

American Winter screening with producer Devon Terrill - an Iowa City nativeAmerican Winter screening with producer Devon Terrill, an Iowa City native, copresented by FilmScene at The Englert 

With programming that entertains, inspires, and educates, FilmScene works to build and connect the community through film. In addition, FilmScene will offer programs designed to cultivate our film community, which may include filmmaker workshops, film literacy programming, and other special events.

Great fun at Starlite Cinema in City ParkGreat fun at Starlite Cinema in City Park

Towards a downtown movie theater

Over the years, downtown Iowa City has been home to numerous cinemas, but since 2007 there has been no full-time movie theater. Public interest has remained strong. In two city-sponsored surveys (in 2007 and 2011) Iowa Citians have named "movie theater" as their #1 desire for new downtown entertainment.

The ghosts of Iowa City's cinematic pastThe ghosts of Iowa City's cinematic past

Founded in the fall of 2011, FilmScene has been working for two years to deliver that experience and fill the void in our culture landscape.

We have been joined in these efforts by the Bijou Cinema, whose rich 40-year programming history will continue at FilmScene, supported by resources they have never had: full-time staff, a purpose-built space, full concessions and cafe.

This is a community effort--we need every donation. Thank you for your support!

Our intimate 80-seat theaterOur intimate 80-seat theater

Risks and Challenges

FilmScene's build-out is well underway. The theater and projection booth are nearly done, and work will continue throughout the campaign. If our Kickstarter goal is not met, we will have to rely on other forms of support such as bank financing. Extra debt is a burden on our organization and means less money is available to support programming and create memorable moviegoing experiences! We do not want to cut corners. Your help means we can build the cinema and community gathering space that Iowa City deserves. Thank you!

Team on This Campaign: