Save the Sun

Save the Sun Theatre in Williamston, Michigan!

"Convert or Die"

Locally owned single-screen movie houses have always faced challenges in competing with the larger chains of multiplexes. However, the rise in digital movie technology is not only making it difficult for these theaters to stay in competition, it is also putting their very existence in jeopardy. The pressure that is now placed on such theaters creates a conundrum that has been termed "Convert or Die".... a problem that is centered around Hollywood profit at the expense of communities such as ours.

The 2009 release of the film Avatar led to larger theaters converting to digital projection en masse. The benefits to theater chains is undeniable: increased flexibility, better picture quality, 3D capability, and ultimately increased revenue capacity per seat. It is also a seemingly win-win situation when factoring in the movie studio's cost in creating and shipping a movie on traditional 35mm film reels at $1,500 in comparison to a mere $150 for a digital version.


The Sun Theatre in Wiliiamston - one of the few remaining theaters where you can still catch a movie for $4 and grab a bag of popcorn for a quarter - has never existed solely in the name of profit. Yet, the profit motives of large corportations may bring about the end of the Sun's existance...closing a chapter in our town's history.


In order to continue providing affordable movie entertainment, business owners such as Dan and Lisa Robitaille of Williamston's beloved Sun Theatre will be forced into making costly modifications to support digital technology because the film studios have decided to stop offering movies in 35mm format altogether by the end of 2013.


Unfortunately, with costs between $50,000 to $100,000, many similar theaters are likely to close their doors in the coming years; a sad trend that has already started.

It's up to us to Save the Sun!

However, with your support we can make sure that the Sun Theatre in Williamston continues to be a community fixture for generations to come.


The Sun Theatre has been in business since 1947 and operated by the Robitaille family for the past 3 decades. 

Not only does the Sun provide a source of local inexpensive local entertainment, they also provide several part-time jobs and drive visitors into the community which has a positive impact on the local economy. While the Sun might not matter to Hollywood, it matters to Williamston!

The Robitaille family and the Sun Theatre have a history of supporting causes that benefit members of the community; it is now the community's turn to support the Sun in its time of need! 

Our Goal:

In order to keep their doors open through 2013 and beyond, the following expensive upgrades are needed:

  • Digital Projector
  • Digital Media Server
  • Lenses and Bulbs
  • Installation Costs
  • Possible building modifications (for increased ventilation in the projector room).
  • Sound system upgrades.

The estimated cost is $80,000. Unlike larger first-run multiplexes that are able to meet the requirements for special pricing/financing and rebates, the Sun Theatre needs our help! Other communities have come together with successful online fundraising campaigns to save their local theaters. If they can do it, so can we!


If you are someone with fond memories of catching flicks at the Sun (maybe the same one repeatedly when there was nothing else to do), who tried to sneak into the "Cry room" as a teen, or who simply wants to show a local business that this community stands behind them...I urge you to make a donation to Save the Sun from becoming just another vacant building in small town America.


Every dollar counts to reach our goal and no donation is too small! Perhaps you might think about how much you spent at your last visit to a large chain theater ($50? $75?) and make a similar investment into the history and future of the Williamston community.


Even if you are unable to donate today, please take a moment to share this site and your memories of the Sun Theatre with others!

             Thank you for your support!

Team on This Campaign: