The DeGraauw family recently installed $300,000-plus worth of the latest state-of-the-art movie equipment, making Lafitte one of only a handful of movie theaters in Acadiana to be 100 percent digital/3-D.
Gone are the 35 millimeter film projectors that has been showing movies in Abbeville for the last 80-plus years. That old heavy equipment is now sitting in the projection room ready to be moved. In its place today are computerized movie projectors and digital sound racks that no longer take film. A movie arrives on what looks like a large hard drive box and then is plugged into a projector which is half computer and half projector. At least five movies can be downloaded onto the same projector and run back to back without touching a button.
Friday night “Thor” opened in 3-D in Abbeville, the first digital 3-D movie to be shown in Abbeville.
Not only did they replace the projectors, the DeGraauws put in high-quality Dolby 5.1 DTS sound systems in all four auditoriums, equipment that ranks with the finest state-of-the-art cinema sound systems in North America.
“It is something we had to do as the industry enters this new modern era of technology.” said Dave DeGraauw, co-owner of the theater. “Starting this weekend, when people come to the movies, they will experience a huge difference in the quality of the sound and picture.”
DeGraauw said with the price of fuel as high as it is, hopefully local residents won’t travel to Lafayette to watch the same movies playing in Abbeville. In addition to ‘Keeping Vermilion Parish dollars at home’ Lafitte Cinema’s prices at both the Box-Office and especially at the concession stand are considerably less than those charged for the exact same movies playing in Lafayette.
The DeGraauw family has been in the movie business since the 1920s. When David’s grandfather began in the business in th 1920’s, the movies were black and white and a record was played for sound. Today movies look like they are happening right in front of you instead of on a screen.
Douglas LeCombe, the manager of the Lafitte Cinema, added, “I knew it (digital) was coming. I was told in 2000 but I said it would never happen. Well, here it is.”
The good news, even with the price of the new equipment, the price to watch a movie will only increase by $1. A child’s cost is $6 and an adult’s is now $8, still much less than Lafayette cinemas charge. A 3-D movie will cost an extra $2 per ticket, still much less than cinemas in Lafayette charge,
While the price is up by a $1, David said it is still 30 percent cheaper to a movie in Abbeville than it is in Lafayette.
Bob DeGraauw and brother Frank operated the Frank’s theater. Bob is Dave’s partner in running the Lafitte.
“The picture quality is amazing,” said Bob, who is now 84 years old.
Today more and more movies are being made in 3-D. David DeGraauw said this summer there are a host of 3-D movies being released. He did warn that not every 3-D movie will be shown in Abbeville as a 3-D movie. He said the industry is making 3-D movies that should not be a 3-D movie. The Lafitte Theater will have a choice to get a 2-D movie or 3-D movie on certain releases.