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Soon there may be No more Drive-Ins as Studios force Drive In’s and Small Local Mom & Pop Theatre’s to go Digital by 2013! Cost $80,000.00 each to upgrade!
Remember going to the Valley Drive In as a kid in our parents station wagon. Was only $4 per carload back in the 70’s and as a teen in the 80’s. Also Really miss the other drive ins that closed down, like the Aurora (now Sam’s Club), Bel-Kirk, Sunset (now Factoria Cinemas), Duwamish (now Boeing Office), Midway (was Swap Meet), & Sno-King (was Swap Meet).
Their beloved place with all those memories of summer nights snuggled up, and sometimes even watching movies through windshield wipers in pouring rain, has to adapt or die. And adapting is going to cost something like $80,000, not money that mom-and-pop operations on a shoestring have handy. That’s how much a digital projector costs, and drive-ins like the Blue Fox, and their cousins — the theaters in small towns — have no choice. The days of 35-millimeter film are nearly over. The reels have been replaced by a computer hard drive, and going digital costs plenty. A woman writes, “I love the drive in theater … Places in times like these should never wither away, we need our roots, our memories, our simpler times to keep us grounded and focused.” Darrell Bratt, who, with his wife, Lori, bought the Blue Fox in 1988, jokes that if just one fan of the drive-in bought a T-shirt for $80,000, everything would be fine. So far, he’s sold about $16,000 worth of them. The theater is still using the same projector as when the drive-in opened — the Century Model SA, Serial No. 6019. It is a workhorse in the industry and has been working just fine through all the decades, just some minor tuneups. The old-fashioned machines that seemed so romantic as the film wound through have been replaced by a 2 ½-by-3 ½-foot black box that is the digital projector, plus a computer server and a laptop. The movie itself? It is shipped to the theater in a metal hard drive like you’d see in a home computer, except it has a monster memory that can hold six full-length movies. The hard drive is “ingested” into the server and won’t play unless digitally unlocked with an emailed password, and it’ll only stay unlocked for a certain period of time.
For the studios, the math is simple. A typical two-hour movie takes up a little over two miles of film. It costs $1,200 to $1,500 for each print. A widely released film like “Prometheus” opened in some 3,400 theaters, says Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Association of Theatre Owners. You go digital, “and you save a billion in striking prints and shipping costs,” says Corcoran. He says three-quarters of movie screens already have switched to the new format. “Sometime in 2013, the major studios will basically stop distributing movies on film,” says Corcoran.
Remember going to the Sunset Drive In as a kid in our parents station wagon. Was only $4 per carload back in the 70’s. Also Really miss the other drive ins that closed down, like the Aurora (now Sam’s Club), Bel-Kirk, Sunset (now Factoria Cinemas), Duwamish (now Boeing Office), Midway (was Swap Meet), & Sno-King (was Swap Meet).