Garde breaks film festival attendance record

The Garde Arts Center's New London Winter Film Festival closes Sunday with a matinee screening of "Les Miserables," but it's already been a record-breaking festival. The attendance has gone over the 6,000 mark for the 15-movie series - the biggest turn-out ever for a Garde film festival.

Garde Executive Director Steve Sigel said Thursday that the average amount of single tickets sold for 2013 screenings so far was 271, compared with an average of 141 for the past six years. In addition, the Garde sold 450 festival passes, which allows admission to all screenings, versus 119 passes last year.

Another record-breaker: more than 1,000 people turned out to see a single fest movie, which, in this case, was "Argo."

It's a watershed movie moment for the Garde in more ways than one. The theater is facing converting to digital. By the end of this year, studios will no longer release movies on celluloid; they'll be digital only.

The Garde is in the process of getting information from an installer on the feasibility, installation and cost involved. It could be in the neighborhood of $140,000, and the Garde would fundraise for that.

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