Struggling movie theater in Kitsap County saved by strangers

A struggling movie theater in Kitsap County has been saved thanks to the generosity of strangers.

KINGSTON, Wash. — A struggling movie theater in Kitsap County has been saved thanks to the generosity of strangers.

Owner Craig Smith used his life savings to convert a firehouse to the theater, located in Kingston, 10 years ago to fulfill a childhood dream. But like many owners of small-town theaters, he struggled to keep it running.

“A lot of people are unaware what it (costs) to maintain it. It’s a high-overhead, low-profit business,” Smith said.

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Smith said he almost closed the theater a handful of times and was looking for bankruptcy lawyers when converting from film to digital projection. However, as Smith started to lose hope, the community gave him a reason not to. His son created a GoFundMe page that raised about $6,000 in the first week.

The theater was then featured in a report on CBS Sunday Morning last weekend, and the donations came pouring in. Smith said by noon on Sunday, the GoFundMe had raised $100,000.

“The good people all across the States. Five, $10, I had no idea,” Smith said of the donations. “I mean, I know (what) the term going viral means now.”

Smith said the donations give him hope that things will continue to support the theater.

“It’s just amazing that other people have that same sense. I think it’s the greatest living art,” Smith said.

As of Friday morning, the GoFundMe has raised $197,000.