The length of time since the start of Pat Patterson's career was miscalculated. He started in the film business 70 years ago.
It's the end of an era in Sioux Falls.
The West Mall 7 Theatre will complete installation of state-of-the-art digital cinema projectors, digital surround sound systems, and new screens this month. The new digital projection systems replace the theatre's 35mm film projectors, which are the last remaining commercial film projectors in Sioux Falls.
The West Mall 7 showed its first movie on film in 1988. But like everything else these days, the West Mall 7 is going digital.
"To play film, you're going to have to upgrade to digital projectors, we've known that for a few years and the time was now," West Mall 7 owner Todd Frager said.
Along with the new digital projectors, Frager is also currently replacing all the screens and adding new digital audio systems to all seven theaters.
"That to me is what people will notice the most, walking in the auditorium is the sound presentation from what we had before until now," Frager said.
The new digital format even impresses 88-year-old Pat Patterson. However, the transformation is also bittersweet for Patterson, who started in the film business 70 years ago when he was just 18.
"It means end of working life for me, because I'm a film man. But you have to admit the digital picture is so sharp, so clear, it's a big improvement, no scratches from film and so forth. It's a needed improvement," Patterson said.
Three of the digital projectors are already in place, they will install the remaining four and hope to have all seven up and running by Friday.
Marking the end of an era in the Sioux Falls movie industry.
"There's some nostalgia there, we'll probably park one down in the lobby here, so people can see what the 35 mm looked like," Frager said.
The West Mall 7 Theatre has been a favorite of Sioux Falls area movie goers because of its discounted prices. The theatre shows popular movies within a few weeks of their initial release for only $3.00 per person.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: