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Independent movie theaters in small towns are struggling to stay in business as Hollywood studios switch from 35 mm film to digital.

The change is forcing theater owners to abandon film projectors that have been an industry staple since the early 1900s, in favor of new and expensive digital equipment. For small-town moviegoers, the loss of their local cinema means longer drives to theater chains in bigger cities.

Patrick Corcoran of the National Association of Theatre Owners says converting one screen to digital costs about $70,000.

Big chains can afford the digital transition, which can be cheaper when buying in bulk for multiscreen theaters. But those who own smalle.

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