Theater owners secured bank financing that enabled them to cover the remaining cost of purchasing digital projectors

by: JASON CHANEY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Pine Theater patrons line up for movie tickets and treats on Wednesday evening.

It’s official. Pine Theater is going digital.
   Theater owners Oniko and Ali Mehrabi recently learned that Bank of the Cascades will refinance their existing business debt and extend them a line of credit to cover the remaining cost of purchasing digital movie projectors.
   On Wednesday, the Mehrabis announced the news via their Pine Theater Facebook page.
   “Thank you, Bank of the Cascades!” Oniko gushed.
   In March, the Mehrabis mounted an ambitious campaign to raise $80,000 to purchase two digital movie projectors. The decision came following news that Hollywood studios were phasing out film movies in favor of digital.
   They elected to sell 240 engraved horseshoes at $400 apiece that they would place in the sidewalk outside their theater doors. They initially set a July 4 deadline on the fundraiser, but extended it when horseshoe sales came up nearly $30,000 short.
   Fearing they would fall short of their goal and have to close their doors, the theater owners started pursuing a loan to bridge the remaining gap. At first, they didn’t have much success.
   “The problem was all of our ratios didn’t work out,” Oniko explained. “So, they (Bank of the Cascades) said to just keep putting along and we’ll see what happens.”
   As the Mehrabis continued to sell horseshoes, the gap diminished to a point where the bank was willing to work with them. As of Wednesday, they had sold 170 for a total of $68,000. Consequently, in their Facebook announcement, the Mehrabis stressed that the bank approval came “only because of you all and the money raised.”
   Theater patrons won’t have to wait long to experience digital movies. The conversion is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 15, and Oniko says that if everything goes as planned, they will show digital movies for the first time on the following weekend.
   “It will be a clearer picture — a focused picture, no more scratches, and better sound,” Oniko said.
   More importantly, Pine Theater will keep its doors open and once again show most new releases. In recent weeks, securing film copies of first-run movies had become increasingly difficult as fewer were produced. In fact, the Mehrabis had not confirmed another movie beyond “Wolverine,” which is currently showing this week.
   Oniko expressed gratitude to the businesses and theater customers who bought horseshoes to keep the theater open.
   “We live in an incredible community,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting customers to be the ones who came in so much.”
   However, the fundraiser is not over yet. The Mehrabis want to pay off the line of credit quickly, and will continue to sell horseshoes to accomplish that goal. Oniko also noted that any money they make above and beyond the cost of the projectors will pay for improvements to the theater.
   “As long as the horseshoes keep coming in, we can pay this off and be financially sound, where we have always been,” she said.

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