Tonawanda News

October 6, 2012

Donation keeps Riv film series rolling

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — A donation made to the Riviera Theatre on Friday will allow the continuation of a long-standing film series targeted to families. 

The Family Film Series has been held each week from October through early May for years, but has recently become endangered due to funding shortages at the theatre, said Executive Director Frank Cannata, who added that rising utility prices and the cost of acquiring movies from the film industry have increased.  

“Over the years the cost of providing films has certainly gone up,” Cannata said. 

Part of the appeal of the series, held each Sunday, is the low cost, set at $2 a person, which is possible only because the Riviera obtains movies that have been recently released in mainstream theatres. But even that’s about to change when the industry moved entirely from 35 millimeter films to only digitized versions. 

Nonetheless Cannata said each week under his six-year reign he’s seen hundreds of kids and parents roll in to catch movies released in mainstream theatres a few weeks to a few months earlier. 

The Riviera picks them up for showings before they’re sold as DVDs, while the series also occasionally includes classics and silent films. 

The theater has been using two projectors that date back to the 1930s, while the movies the theatre runs for the series are always rated between G and PG-13. 

“The projectors are very labor intensive,” Cannata said, “It’s getting harder and to find people to project.” 

And while Cannata said a sliver of the series-goers are movie purists who like the fact that the older projectors are used, a new round of software is yet to be purchased that will improve clarity. Leaders of the Riviera were worried that the film series would be in jeopardy when another organization that steadily funded it bowed out. 

Yet on Friday, KeyBank representatives piled into the upstairs projection room at the Riviera, where they announced a $10,000 donation, which will allow the film series to continue for another season, Cannata said. 

Marie E. Hare, vice president of KeyBank’s philanthropy and civic affairs department, said the fact that the theatre has been a client of the bank and also falls within its standards of selecting philanthropic endeavors was the motivation for the donation. 

“It involves families and children and that’s what we do,” she said. 

This Sunday will feature The Amazing Spiderman, while Diary of a Wimpy Kid will be shown on Oct. 14 and Ice Age: Continental Drift will appear on Oct. 21. 

For more information about the film series go to

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.