Saturday, June 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

Hollywood meets Tacoma at Theatre on the Square

// Grand Cinema hosts Academy Awards fundraiser for digital upgrade

It is “Lincoln” versus “Argo,” 9-year-old “Beasts of the Southern Wild” actress Quvenzhané Wallis versus 85-year-old “Amour” star Emmanuelle Riva.

There should be plenty of suspense once the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences starts doling out Oscars on Feb. 24. ABC-TV will broadcast all the festivities beginning at 5:30 p.m. And, assuming you do not have a ticket to Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, the hottest place to catch all the action in Tacoma should be Theatre on the Square.

That is where the Grand Cinema will host its annual Academy Awards party and fundraiser, an event that will – along with the broadcast – feature costume contests, trivia, a silent auction and more. The event will also serve as a fundraiser for the non-profit theater’s Digital Cinema Challenge Fundraising Campaign.

The Grand Cinema, located at 606 Fawcett Ave., in Tacoma, is tasked with upgrading all four of its 35 mm projectors to keep pace with changes in the film industry.

“The big picture is every movie theater has to convert to digital because every distributor in the country is converting to digital projectors and delivering films, basically, on hard drives,” the Grand’s Marketing Director Zach Powers explained.

“Your chain theaters are getting a lot of financial help and have big financial partnerships with the big movie studios themselves,” he said. “So really, the challenge falls on the local theaters, the non-profit theaters like ours, to come up with this money ourselves.”

The cost to upgrade is about $75,000 per screen. The Grand’s goal, at the beginning of the campaign, was to raise $344,000 by the end of the year, of which about $117,000 had been raised as of Feb. 18, according to Rachel Marecle, the theater’s director of community development.

“We’re right on schedule,” Marecle said. “So if we can add $10,000 to that from this event we’ll be super excited.”

Organizers say the Oscar event is also a showcase of what the Grand offers Tacoma. For example, “Lincoln,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Amour” and “The Master” – five of the nine nominees for best picture – all showed at the theater.

“Most of these films aren’t like ‘Lincoln,’ which showed in other theaters,” Powers said. “A lot of these films – your foreign films, some of your smaller films, your short films, your documentaries – ... if not for the Grand, would not have screened in Pierce County.”

Theatre on the Square is located in Tacoma at 915 Broadway. Doors for the Grand’s Academy Awards party will open at 4 p.m. with festivities beginning at 5 p.m. There will be a red carpet and “paparazzi” on hand to give patrons a taste of Hollywood glamour as they arrive. Tickets are $30 to $35 general admission.

“Family Guy” and “Ted” creator Seth MacFarlane has been tapped to host the Oscars, which will air from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The ceremony will include performances by Barbara Streisand, singing at the event for the first time in 36 years; Norah Jones, singing “Everybody Needs a Best Friend,” her Oscar-nominated cut from “Ted”; and chart-topping singer-songwriter Adele, performing her Oscar-nominated theme to “Skyfall,” the newest James Bond flick.

The Grand Cinema Academy Awards party and fundraiser

Doors open at 4 p.m. Feb. 24

Theatre on the Square

915 Broadway, Tacoma

$30 to $35 general admission (VIP sold out)

(253) 591-5894 or