MANCHESTER - A fund-raising campaign launched to enable the area's only local movie theater to stay open has gotten off to a quick start.

The Village Picture Shows has turned to the Internet-based Kickstarter program to help it raise $175,000 by March 15, to pay for new equipment needed to show films made digitally. As of Wednesday, Jan. 23, the movie theater had raised a total of $77,056 from 389 backers with 51 days left. They must raise the remaining $97,944 by March 15.

"We didn't not expect this at all," said Shelly Gibson, owner of the movie theater. "Sometimes when you are running a business you start to wonder if you are the only one who cares. We are completely overwhelmed by the generosity and taken back in a such wonderful way.

It feels really good to know that people care about the movie theater."

Gibson said that she has received so much support that it has been quite surprising.

"99 percent of the things that have been said to me have been incredibly supportive. Once we made the community aware of what is going on with small movie theaters all around the country they have reacted in such a great way and they have all responded with such support," she said.

Gibson did recognize that there have been a handful of naysayers out there who prefer renting movies via Netflix or Redbox instead of going out and watching a movie at a theater.

"It has effected us somewhat," she said when asked if Netflix and Redbox have been a problem. "I think that people who have a tendency to stay at home will use those and more social people will go out.

The downside to using Netflix and Redbox over the movie theater is that we get the movies much more in advance that they do."

Redbox is a "movie vending machine" that specializes in the rental of DVD's, Blu-Ray discs, and video games. Netflix is a provider of movies using the Internet to stream them and lets you rent movies from your own home.

The money is needed to finance an equipment conversion to allow the theater to show movies produced digitally, compared to those produced through traditional film-based movie stock. New projectors, new screens and a new sound system will be needed, since by the end of this year, movies will no longer be available in the older film-based version, Gibson said.

The Kickstarter campaign began on Tuesday, Jan. 15, and has 60 days to raise the money necessary for the new equipment. If by the time the 60 days is up and the amount of $175,000 has not been raised, the money will be returned to the donors and the theater will close, most likely around April 1, said Gibson.

The Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce has also been involved. Executive Director Berta Maginniss said that the Chamber is available for those who wish to donate in person instead of doing so online.

"We are getting some interest here at the chamber as well," she said. "Some people don't want to give online so we give the people the ability to give a check in person to the chamber for the cause."

Although the campaign has started with a bang, Maginniss said that the trick will be keeping enthusiasm high and that in order for this to be successful they will need support from beyond our local community.

When asked if she thinks they will make the goal of $175,000 Gibson said, "When I first started this campaign I had my doubts, but because of the support of everyone in the community I am becoming cautiously optimistic."

The Village Picture Shows is not the only local business to use a Kickstarter campaign. Al Ducci's located on Elm Street underwent a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to in July of 2012 that ended up raising over $13,000. Although this was a much smaller campaign it was successful.

Al Ducci's started the Kickstarter campaign fund to fix up the outside of the building, get a hood for grilling and frying, and to outfit much of the inside of the restaurant.

If a person decides to donate a certain amount of money towards the campaign they will be given certain amenities such as free movie passes.

For more information or to donate to the Kickstarter program for the theater visit www.kickstarter.com.