Save Movies

help save movies at the garde


After 87 years of movie-going memories at New London’s nationally-acclaimed and fully-restored Garde Movie Palace, a new golden era of movies has arrived – Hollywood has gone digital and so must the Garde.

The campaign to Save Movies at the Garde is raising $361,000 in tax-deductible donations to provide the new Garde Theater, one of the few remaining movie palaces in New England, with a state-of the-art, Hollywood-certified digital cinema projection and audio system.

Your gift will help

•    increase cinema programming throughout the year, including  new movies, independent film, classics and festivals

•    install a new state-of-the-art 4K cinema projection and audio system (designed by the award-winning engineers of Boston Light & Sound) that surpasses the visual and audio quality of 35mm film

•    provide first-class sound quality and clarity that can also be integrated into the live event sound system

•    present all media formats: DVD, BluRay, Internet, Video cameras, computers, cable and closed-circuit television

•    save the 35mm projectors by connecting them to the new digital audio system

•    host educational and business-related screenings

•    provide the capacity for closed-captioning for the hearing impaired

•    underwrite costs of future film programming

•    upgrade box office, online and print-at-home ticketing services

•    establish a cinema system maintenance fund






Amount raised: $280,000 (as of 2/15/2014)


Garde Arts Center’s Save Movies at the Garde Campaign
reaches 75 percent mark

Historic theater hits 75 percent fundraising mark for new digital film system

(New London)
After 87 years of movie-going memories in the heart of downtown New London, the future of movies at the Garde Arts Center’s 1,450-seat Garde Theater was in jeopardy. With Hollywood transitioning from celluloid to digital film, the Garde, one of the last remaining historic movie palaces in Connecticut, launched a fundraising campaign to design and install a state-of-the-art digital projection and audio system.
The Save Movies at the Garde Campaign’s $361,000 fund drive will enable the design and installation of a state-of-the-art 4k digital cinema projection and audio system and related software upgrades and provide for programming and maintenance costs. This past week, the Garde reached 75 percent of their fundraising goal, allowing the installation of complex network of hidden wiring throughout the Garde Theater to begin. In addition, 20 Klipsch cinema surround speakers are being hand painted to match the Garde’s unique Moroccan décor.One of the premier audio and visual presentation firms in the country, Boston Light & Sound, was retained last summer to design and oversee the installation of a new digital cinema system custom engineered for the nationally-recognized and beautifully restored Garde Movie Palace.The new system allows movie projectors to provide equal or superior images from digital files called DCP’s (Digital Cinema Package). With each DCP screening, movie images will be pristine, as if being viewed for the first time, and color fading, “jump and weave,” scratches and dirt accumulation will be eliminated. The Garde’s computerized system will also play other types of video such as Blu-ray, computer or internet-based appliances.The Christie CP4220 4K Projector projects a 4k image (4096 x 2160 pixels), twice the resolution of Blu-ray and the highest resolution available for any cinema projector. Utilizing Texas Instruments’ DLP Cinema technology, the image has 3-dimensional color space – over 35 trillion different colors. Projecting crystal clear and lifelike images in 2D and 3D and alternative media content, with DLP Cinema, you will see and hear a movie exactly the way the director intended it, each and every screening.For the first time, the Garde will be installing a dedicated cinema speaker system, separate from but able to be connected to the Garde’s live speaker system.It will consist of nine speakers behind the movie screen and 20 surround speakers in the orchestra and balcony, providing the clearest and broadly focused sound for the Garde’s unique architecture.A welcome recent change to the design was the ability to keep the existing 35mm projectors and have them connected to the new digital sound system, enabling the Garde to still show rare 35mm films as part of its programing.

Complete installation is dependent upon the timing of gifts received and pledged to the Campaign. While no date has been set yet for the opening, the Garde anticipates to debut the new system between late February and mid-March.

The Garde Theater opened in 1926 as a first-run “combination house,” interspersing live variety acts with silent film accompanied by a Wurlitzer organ, all housed in an exotic Mediterranean décor reflecting the national fascination at that time with Mideast. With the advent of “talkies,” movies with sound, Warner Brothers purchased the building in 1929 as part of chain of 17 New England movie theaters so the studio empire could produce films for their own exclusive venues.

As New London faced growing competition from suburbanization and malls, the Garde fell victim to declining retail, multiplex cinemas and television in the 1960s and 70s. Despite the occasional blockbuster – a 1971 screening of The Godfather broke attendance records– declining attendance forced RKO-Stanley-Warner to close the theater in 1977. In 1978, it was sold to a local business who sold the building in 1985 to the newly created Garde Arts Center, Inc., a non-profit performing arts organization whose mission was to save and reuse the historic Garde Theater.

Film returned to the Garde in 1994, when the Garde, with funding support from the City of New London and the Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, retained the owners and operators of the famed Music Box movie theater in Chicago to help purchase a giant screen and modernize the ancient carbon-arc 35mm projectors. The Garde Summer Film Series opened in June and ran for a summer featuring Hollywood musicals (“Singin’ in the Rain), classics (“Casablanca”), foreign films (“Cinema Paradiso”), comedies (“A Night at the Opera”) and blockbusters (“Jurassic Park”).

Between 1995 and 1997, programming switched to more contemporary film with week-long showings of a single film during the summer and during November and December. In June 2001, the Garde was the Connecticut host of the National Film Preservation Tour presented by the US library Congress during which movie star Janet Leigh, Richard Roundtree and others hosted rare showings of archival prints of films on the National Film Registry.

A new series was added in February 2004 featuring Oscar nominated films. At the 2013 New London Winter Film Festival it was announced that the era of film on celluloid was coming to an end, and the campaign to save movies at the Garde was announced.

For more about the Save Movies at Garde Campaign or to make tax-deductible donations, visit or call 860-444-4430.

About the Garde Arts Center
The Garde Arts Center, Inc. is a non-profit cultural organization created in 1985 by a regional, volunteer network of leaders in business, arts, education and philanthropy. Their mission was to save and transform the historic Garde theatre, one of the few remaining historic movie palaces in Connecticut, and create a performing arts center in the heart of downtown New London serving Southeastern Connecticut, a region rich in geographic, economic, ethnic and cultural diversity.Today, the Garde owns and operates the historic 1450-seat Garde Theatre and the new 130-seat Oasis Room where it presents musicals, opera, orchestras, contemporary music, dance, film, and family events. The Garde’s education program provides after-school programs, a summer camp and matinee and family performances to more than 12,200 young people each year. The Garde continues its mission to engage, enrich, entertain and inspire the region of greater New London County by providing broad based programs and services that reconnect the city to the region, and by bringing the cultural assets of the region closer together.

(Photos: L-R) 1926: The Garde Theater opens as a first-run picture house. 1965: World premiere of The Bedford Incident. 2013: The Oscar-winning Argo breaks the Film Festival record for attendance. Present: The Garde projection room