Cinestudio was founded in 1970 by a group of students at Trinity College. The students converted a large lecture hall in the college’s Clement Chemistry Building into a recreation of a 1930s film house. The theater was created as a cooperative, with students overseeing all aspects of the theater’s operation. Cinestudio made its mark early by showing controversial films and debuting future cult classics, including The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Cinestudio has continued largely as a cooperative operation. Two founding members, James Hanley and Peter McMorris, have guided the theater since its inception and now manage its day-to-day operation, including all nightly projection. A staff of approximately 50 student and community volunteers run showings seven days a week.
In 2002, Cinestudio incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit arts organization. The theater now is independent of Trinity College, although it still occupies space in the college’s chemistry building.
In 2007, the theater’s ticket booth was renamed the Fred Pfeil Memorial Ticket Booth in honor of late Trinity College professor and long-time Cinestudio volunteer and board member, Fred Pfeil.