Columbus Theatre
Rhode Island International Film Festival 2002
Providence, RI.  USA

Exterior shot of the theatre.  It originally had 1,492 seats at the time of construction in 1926.  It currently seats 650 on the main floor, 150 in the mezzanine, and 250 in the now-walled-off upper balcony.

This theatre was built in 1926 and, for a brief time in the 1920s, was renamed the Uptown Theatre.  This mosaic still greets customers at the front entrance.

Ticket window in outer lobby; note the plaque indicating that the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Some of the stained-glass artwork in the outer lobby.

Concession stand in inner lobby.  The door behind the stand goes to the main projection booth.

Bad time exposure showing the interior of the main theatre.  Note the mural above the stage.

Console for the WurliTzer theatre organ.

Organ blower backstage.

A few organ pipes.

Original Ward-Leonard resistance-type dimmer panel backstage.

A few of the prints shown at the 2002 Rhode Island International Film Festival; all had to be hand-inspected, of course.  Many were lab-new answer prints.

The main projection booth.  Equipment includes Century C's, SH-1000 soundheads, Super Lume-X lamphouses, and a Speco platter (to the right of this shot).  Three formats can be shown properly:  Academy, 1.85, and CinemaScope.  Films can be run off 2000' reels, 6000' reels or platter, though the platter was not used for the festival.  This booth was built in the late 1970s to replace the original booth (see photos below), which was high above the balcony.  Note that the projection angle here is almost straight-on, with almost no keystone distortion.  The lamps currently use 1600-watt bulbs.

Reverse shot of the main booth.

Kelmar mono sound system and exciter supply.  The theatre currently uses exciter-lamp changeover.  Digital is overrated! 

Rewind bench.

The balcony was walled off in the 1960s to become the "studio cinema"--Rhode Island's first "multiplex."

The booth for the "studio cinema."  It hasn't run 35mm for many years, though it may do so again soon.  Equipment includes Super Simplexes, RCA 9030 soundheads, and Strong arc lamphouses (which will probably be replaced with Super Lume-Xs in the near future).

Reverse shot of the upper booth.

For the festival, the upper theatre was used only for 16mm and video screenings, using an Elmo portable xenon projector and a Sharp LCD video projector, running Beta SP and VHS.

To get to the original 1920s-era booth, one must first ascend this ladder...

...and walk across this catwalk through the attic.  Better hope that there isn't a nitrate fire, as it would be difficult to get out of this booth quickly!

Rewind bench for the original booth.  It has been nearly a quarter century since film ran up here.

Operators' licenses and city booth inspection certificate on the wall above the rewind bench.

This booth is equipped with Super Simplexes, Western Electric soundheads and bases, and Peerless arc lamps.

City fire inspection plate on one of the projectors--a relic of the nitrate era.

A shot of the other projector.

Switches and control panel for TransVerter motor-generator sets.

Booth phone--at one time this could be used to call the box office or backstage.

Carbon-arc spotlight.

More outdated equipment.  This time we have a Sony HDCAM deck and DLP projector with HMI lamp (next picture).  This is the same video format as George Lucas used for Episode II and has been collecting dust in the booth since 1926.  The tape shell is the same as Beta SP, but the format is completely different.  The picture looked OK and the colors were beautiful, but the sharpness and shadow/highlight detail were sorely lacking in comparison with film.

Special thanks to Scott Norwood for the pics.