Granada Theater moves to digital and 3D technology

Written by Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer April 27, 2011 03:37 pm
3 new digital projectors will allow customers to experience movies in high-def Dolby Digital, Surround Sound, and some films in Dolby 3D
  Sometimes it takes longer than others, but progress usually does catch up with La Grande and Union County. This week, improvements at the Granada Theater propel local movie entertainment into the 21st Century.

After months of planning and significant capital outlay, three new digital projectors — one for each of the Granada’s three auditoriums — are going on line. They replace the 35 millimeter machines that have been shining movies onto Granada screens for decades.

 From now on, Granada customers will experience all movies in high-definition Dolby Digital and Surround Sound, and select films in Dolby 3D.

For a small community always hungering after modern conveniences, it’s no doubt a welcome change. Movie purists seeking those high-resolution thrills need not travel long distances to find them.

“This is something the community has often asked for,” said Granada Manager Edna Henderson. “I believe people are going to like it, not only people from Union County but from surrounding areas as well.”

The Granada, at 1311 Adams Ave., has been a property of the Greulich family since 1929. Francis Greulich, who also owned the State Theater on Adams Avenue, was the founder.

The State went defunct long ago, but the family kept right on in the entertainment business. Today the Granada is owned by three of Francis’s grandsons — Mark, Charles and John.

The three Gruelichs grew up in La Grande. Though they no longer live here, Henderson said they continue to take an active interest in the community and the theater, and want nothing but the best for their customers.

“They’ve kept up with the technology and it’s their desire to provide La Grande with the best entertainment possible,” she said.

In the 1970s, the owners remodeled the Granada to accommodate two auditoriums. The building became a triplex in the 1990s. Just recently, new seats were installed throughout the complex.

Like those improvements, the current move to digital and 3D technology is a major undertaking and represents a a big leap forward, Henderson said.

“It’s been months in the planning, and it’s going to cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” she said.

By late last week, the three projectors had arrived and were awaiting installation by a crew from Portland-based American Cinema Equipment. Two of the theater screens are being replaced as well. The third is 3D capable already.

Work began Tuesday and will continue at a feverish pace throughout the week. When it’s done, all three auditoriums will be Dolby-ready.

“Having all three theaters digital and 3D-capable makes us unique,” Henderson said.

Another task to be completed this week is the unpacking of some 1,500 pair of specially-made glasses essential to 3D viewing.

See GRANADA, 2B The glasses, available for now only in an adult size, will be handed out prior to movies and collected afterwards. With a machine made specially for the purpose, they’ll be sterilized after each use.

Henderson said the glasses won’t work with other 3D applications, nor will glasses made for other applications  work with Dolby.

“Our glasses won’t work with other technologies and they won’t work with 3D television,” Henderson said. “They’re unique to the theater and the equipment that’s being used.”

Henderson said admission prices for 2D movies will remain the same for now, though 3D movies will cost $2 more. Later, she said, moviegoers will see an increase in all ticket prices.

“Rio,’’ an animated feature playing at at the Granada this week, is a 3D film. After the first projector was mounted Tuesday, “Rio’’ became the first movie in Granada history to be shown in Dolby 3D.

Of course, not every movie on the market is made in 3D. The next one to show at the Granada is “Thor,’’ opening May 6.

The Granada will remain open throughout the entire changeover this week. For Henderson and all the Granada crew, it’s a hectic time.

But an exciting one, too.

“I’m proud to be a part of this,” Henderson said.