Senator Robach Announces $500,000 For New Projection Booth At The George Eastman House Dryden Theatre

Joseph E. Robach

August 30, 2006

Senator Robach and the Rochester Senate delegation today awarded $500,000 in New York state funds to equip and renovate the projection booth of the historic Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House. For 55 years the Dryden Theatre has been the sole exhibition space for the George Eastman House’s unique collection of more than 28,000 motion picture titles dating from 1895 to present day. The current projectors of the Dryden Theatre booth are the original ones installed in 1951, when the theater opened its doors. The new projection booth will be equipped to accommodate the latest advances in the motion picture industry, including digital projection.

The activity of six to seven screenings a week for 55 years has taken its toll on the original Dryden projectors, which will be replaced with four projectors manufactured by Kinoton of Germany. These projectors can project 35mm and 70mm prints, including original nitrate prints — as the Dryden Theatre is one of only four theaters in the country certified to show nitrate-based film. This will enable audiences to experience films in the formats in which filmmakers intended them to be seen and for the Eastman House to show more films from its collection. The booth also will become better equipped for video projection and will include a port for digital projection. In addition, the sound system will be enhanced.

After these changes are made, screening and sound quality will exceed standards required by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Minimal enhancements have been made over the last 55 years, but no major renovation has been undertaken until now. Renovations to the Dryden first began in 2002, with upgrades to the Dryden lobby, restrooms, and box offices. The George Eastman House plans to complete the projection booth renovation by summer 2007, with little interruption to the public screening schedule.

"I am very pleased to have worked with Senator Nozzolio, Senator Alesi and Senator Maziarz to secure this $500,000 State Senate grant for the George Eastman House to help renovate the Dryden Theatre. We recognize the contributions Mr. Eastman made to our community during his lifetime, and we are proud to be able to assist in preserving this unique theater, which is a celebration of his mark on the motion picture world. When this project is completed, the entire Rochester community will be able to continue to enjoy movies from all genres at the Dryden Theatre, from the silent films of the early 1900s to the latest digital releases."

The Dryden Theatre was a gift from George Eastman’s niece, Ellen Dryden, and her husband, George. At 535 seats it is one of the world’s largest archival screening facilities, and it is equipped to screen safety and nitrate film. The Dryden Theatre has hosted more than 20,000 films; millions of moviegoers; and hundreds of film legends, including Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, and Meryl Streep.