TOWANDA - A new chapter in the history of Towanda's Keystone Theatre began Friday when the theater began showing high-tech 3D movies and using its new digital projectors for the first time.

"I think it's exciting that we're going to have 3D movies in Towanda, especially for young people, because they won't have to travel so far to see them," said Julie Larnard-Newbury, artistic director of the Winding River Players.

When watching a 3D movie, "the experience kind of envelopes you. You feel like you are part of the movie," she said.

But 3D movies aren't just for kids.

Larnard-Newbury said that when she saw the 3D version of the 2010 film "Cave of the Forgotten Dreams" in Tunkhannock, which is about prehistoric paintings inside a French cave, "you felt like you were right on the trip" to the interior of the cave, she said.

The type of digital projection system that the Keystone Theatre now has is "outstanding," said state Rep. Tina Pickett.

"It makes a real difference in the enjoyment of a movie," she said.

From Oct. 1 through Oct. 4, the Keystone Theatre was closed so that digital projectors could be installed for both movie screens at the theater. Equipment was also added to allow 3D movies to be shown in the movie theater that is located in the addition that was built onto the Keystone Theater in the 2000s, said Elaine Poost, executive director of the Bradford County Regional Arts Council, which owns and operates the Keystone Theatre.

The Keystone is the second of the arts council's three theaters to be converted to a digital projection system.

Three weeks ago, the three movie screens at the Sayre Theatre went digital.

"Everybody loves it (the digital projection system at the Sayre Theatre)," Poost said. "The quality of the picture and the quality of the sound ... is much better than it was."

The upgrade at the Keystone Theatre included, besides new digital projectors, new movie screens and new sound processors for both movie screens, Poost said. The Keystone already has good speakers for its two movie screens, so they were not replaced, she said.

The upgrades at the Keystone were part of a $360,000 project to upgrade all three of the BCRAC's movie theaters to digital projection systems, she said. Digital projection is expected to come to the BCRAC's Rialto Theatre in Canton, sometime next year, she said.

The exact date for the Rialto's conversion depends on how quickly funds can be raised for the conversion, she said.

Currently, the BCRAC has raised approximately half of the $360,000 that is needed for the conversion project at the three theaters, she said.

Movie patrons who watch 3D at the Keystone will be issued special plastic glasses, which are included in the price of their movie ticket.

If you wear glasses, you can wear the 3D glasses over them.

After you watch the 3D movie, you are asked to deposit the special glasses in a bin in the theater so that they can be recycled.

The projection equipment that is used to show 3D movies at the Keystone was provided at no charge to the arts council by a company called RealD 3D, Poost said.

However, the arts council must pay RealD 3D 50 cents for each 3D ticket sold over the next 10 years, she said.

The BCRAC might add 3D projection at its other theaters, depending on its popularity at the Keystone and on whether there are problems in securing 3D films for the small markets in Bradford County, she said.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: