Smith, whose theater is in small town Kingston, Washington, recently spoke with CBS’s Lee Cowan about movies and how, 10-years ago, he used his life savings to turn a firehouse into a two-screen cinema.
It was the only one in town.
He ran it almost entirely by himself, running up credit cards and foregoing a paycheck to keep the place going. Then, one day while he was in the projection booth, he collapsed from a heart attack.
But his loyal patrons set up a a GoFundMe page to save the old theater and help their friend.
By the time of the airing of Cowan’s report, the page had raised $6,000. Then, in a classic plot twist, not 90-minutes after the report, CBS viewers donated thousands of dollars. Soon, the fund was at $100,000.
A few days later, the fund topped $182,000 from thousands of donors from around the world. Most of the donations were the amount of a couple of movie tickets.
Here’s the story from CBS Sunday Morning:
Tomorrow on #SundayMorningCraig Smith used his life savings, to turn an old firehouse into his town's only movie house. But running a theater that's practically a one-man operation isn't easy, and Smith has faced difficulties that have stirred the community to help. https://cbsn.ws/2S7y27L
Posted by CBS Sunday Morning on Saturday, February 8, 2020
And the donor comments are so dear.
One donor wrote,
“Watched your beautiful story on YouTube. Loved the exchange of community love you all have.
I’m on a fixed income, from southern California but wanted to help still.
Much Love from Sunny California.”
“I donated because i was watching CBS this morning and i TRULY APPRECIATE the nostalgia of the theater and the HARD WORK that Craig is doing.
It’s like the scene from Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, when George Bailey sees the townspeople of Bedford Falls rally to help his failed savings and loan. The funds raised are nearing a quarter of a million dollars.
It is definitely a wonderful life when you think you have nothing, only to find out you’re surrounded by angels.