Neon Movies launches critical fundraiser to update its technology

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

The Neon in downtown Dayton has launched a fundraiser to ensure it will be a mainstay for lovers of film in the Miami Valley for years to come.

On Monday, July 26, The Neon launched the “Projecting Our Future Campaign” in an effort to reach an $85,000 goal needed to replace the theater’s two projectors and sound systems. The fundraiser started with a boost from the Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation of the Dayton Foundation with a $50,000 “Executive Producer gift.”

I just can’t say enough about the Jack and Sally Eichelberger foundation,” said Steve Budd, Neon board president. “Getting that kind of a lead gift is exactly what you want when you’re raising money.”

In 2012, The Neon transitioned from a 35mm film projection to large digital projectors and servers. Typically, the life of new projectors is expected to be at least five years, meaning the downtown theater needs a critical update.

Repair expenses have also been escalating recently, according to Budd.

“Without projectors, you can’t show movies, and without movies we don’t really have a movie theater,” he said.

Currently, The Neon receives some version of a “thumb drive,” Budd said, from film distributers in order to screen movies. However, the industry itself has been moving toward doing everything over the internet instead of manually sending theaters a physical device, Budd said.

The new projectors will allow many films to be sourced, or streamed, through an Internet connection.

“The way it currently works, is we have to figure out what’s wrong (and) we have to call someone to come in and service the machines,” Budd said. “Now we’ll be able to do that again, just over the internet. So that will also help (expensive repairs).”

As more time passes with the theater’s existing projectors and the industry moves further and further away from The Neon’s current technology, Budd said the campaign is striving to reach its goal by the end of August.

Anyone interested in donating or becoming a sponsor of the fundraiser can write Budd at, Susan Strong, campaign chair and board member, at, or Jonathan McNeal, The Neon general manager, at or 937-222-8452.

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