Drive-in Theaters get a Digital Facelift - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
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With studios beginning to transition from 35mm to digital, like the smaller independent movie theaters, drive-in theaters are having a harder time adapting. Drive-in theater owners struggle to meet the steep overhead costs of switching to the digital era.

Drive-in theaters may seem like a thing of the past but the film industry is doing its best to push them into the 21st century.
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This week, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) and Cinedigm, a leading digital equipment maker, announced plans to help drive-in theaters make the transition to digital projection systems by offering funding, installation, and operations support.
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The idea, according to Alison Choppelas, Cinedigm's VP of Business Affairs, is to help bring a cultural institution up to speed with a fast-changing industry. "By providing drive-in theaters digital content, including studio feature films, indie films, concerts and cultural events, this important piece of Americana will be an even more engaging gathering spot for the communities they serve," Choppelas said in a statement

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To bridge this gap, NATO plans to extend an existing Cinedigm program that uses virtual print fees — expenses paid by studios to implementation companies — to cover the costs of digital deployment. Cinedigm has already struck VPF agreements with major theater chains across the US and Canada, helping some 276 operators to install more than 12,200 digital screens.

And as studios begin to phase out traditional film, many worry that drive-ins may be left behind.


How do you feel about drive-in movie theaters? Will switching to digital make a difference to you?





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post #2 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 08:23 AM
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It has been many, many years since I have been to a drive-in theater.

Would it make a difference if it was in digital?

No, not for me. Today, I want to see a movie in the comfort of my own home theater. Yesterday, when I was young, I went to the drive-in "Not to see the movie"





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post #3 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimShaw View Post

It has been many, many years since I have been to a drive-in theater.

Would it make a difference if it was in digital?

No, not for me. Today, I want to see a movie in the comfort of my own home theater. Yesterday, when I was young, I went to the drive-in "Not to see the movie"





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post #4 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 08:45 AM
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I think the last time I was at a drive in theater was probably 10 years ago (was 10 or 11 I think), and I like the sentiment of them coming back. I still prefer a traditional home theater, but it's more of a experience of watching a movie outdoors on a giant with friends than anything, which is fun.

At the same time I can do it at home, maybe not with the sound system cranked up in the car and the neighbors complaining, but there is a lot of potential for the return of the drive in theater.
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post #5 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
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I have to agree with both comments. I have invested quite a bit of time and money into my theater at home. But as Trogdor2010 mentioned, it's the whole experience of going out and seeing a movie outside.

I guess it can also help rekindle that old spark tongue.gif. But then I guess it wouldn't matter if it was digital or not...lol

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post #6 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 09:23 AM
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The local Midway Drive-Inn near my home town, as well as the Galva Autoview near me have recently run into this issue. The movie studios no longer want to give them movies on film, so they are being force to either only run old movies that they can still get copies of, or upgrade to a new digital projector. Midway even had a kickstarter going to try to help raise the $125,000 they were estimating they needed to make the required upgrades. They only got about $7,500 of the $40,000 they were trying to raise on the kickstarter project so I'm not sure what exactly ended up happening. I really hope they are able to make the upgrade as it really is a neat thing to do. My wife and I went a couple years ago when we were visiting my family and really had fun, I used to go a decent amount when I was back in high school.

I would probably prefer to go see a movie there, over seeing one in my local cineplex, as it is more of an experience. Otherwise I'd just as soon wait and watch the movie in my own home.

I really hope this program can help keep the Drive-Inns around.
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post #7 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 11:19 AM
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I would love for drive in theaters to make a come back, with most modern cars already having a surround sound speaker setup in their cars it could be possible to really enhance the experience, last time I was at a theater was when Jurassic Park first came out, talk about epic watching that movie on such a huge screen ^_^

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post #8 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 02:13 PM
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I have only been to a drive in once in my life and really enjoyed it....and yes I did watch the movie. I wish there were more drive in theaters around here to be honest.

Edit: Especially if people could tailgate before the film started!

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post #9 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 03:42 PM
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I remember going to to see the original Mutiny on the Bounty with my family as a kid at the drive-in. We didn't go often but it was fun. Later I used to sneak in the back of the local drive-in as a teenager, it was only about a 2 mile walk and kind of an adventure. We would always find someone we knew, hop between cars. Walk home at 1 AM hiding from any cars so we would not get hassled by the cops. Almost never actually watched any of the movies, probably pissed of those who did.

I'm not aware of a single drive-in theater within 50 miles now. I think for the most part they are a lost cause.
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post #10 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 03:42 PM
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Drive-ins are sweet and my first experience of movies were at the drive-ins (first movie I remember seeing was The Empire Strikes Back)! When I lived in CA I went to the Mission Tiki Drive in and it is pretty nice a few years ago. This spring I am going to visit a drive-in here in Ohio, Amelia. Called the Starlite drive-in and they are getting a digital remodel on their equipment.

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post #11 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 04:23 PM
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The Delsea Drive In in Vineland NJ is currently upgrading to a digital system. Believe it or not the place does some nice business on the weekends with first run movies and the snack bar is the best in the state. If you're in NJ/Philly head down there for an affordable double feature. Long live the drive in!
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post #12 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 04:35 PM
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I live in Philly. That's awesome, the very definition of nostalgia.
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Originally Posted by wizzack View Post

The Delsea Drive In in Vineland NJ is currently upgrading to a digital system. Believe it or not the place does some nice business on the weekends with first run movies and the snack bar is the best in the state. If you're in NJ/Philly head down there for an affordable double feature. Long live the drive in!

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post #13 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 06:05 PM
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I didn't know they still existed. I would probably prefer a Drive-In theatre if I was being dragged to a chick flick. That way she can try to enjoy the movie while I try "not to see the movie."
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post #14 of 43 Old 02-05-2013, 06:24 PM
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I go to the Galaxy Drivein Theater in Ennis Texas. They do such awesome business that they now have six screens that run double features including 3D movies. The snack bar is far more affordable than the typical movie theater and the place is setup so that it has that 50's and 60's feel. A truly awesome experience.

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post #15 of 43 Old 02-06-2013, 06:01 AM
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There are also a few in the Pittsburgh area. For a large family it becomes a much more affordable way to get everyone into see the film.

The cost of these digital conversions though is really a shame for some smaller theaters. The studios are the ones making nearly all the gate money - they should certainly be helping to pitch in because ultimately if the theaters close in many cases it's their revenue at stake. The Hollywood Theater in Dormont PA (in the south hills of Pittsburgh) is doing a large fundraiser with some of the original cast and crew of Night of the Living Dead to help raise the money they need for D equipment.

It is also much cheaper to create and transport a digital print, so for small budget movies that typically show in small theaters that makes a lot more sense to show them digitally.


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post #16 of 43 Old 02-06-2013, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I live in Philly. That's awesome, the very definition of nostalgia.

Cool you should try and check it out. We can usually make it down there in less than 1hr straight down rt 55.

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post #17 of 43 Old 02-06-2013, 10:29 PM
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This is good to hear. I grew up in a town with a drive-in and my family went all the time. My love for cinema may have began there. It would be great to see an interest in the public of drive-ins but it seems like a dieing thing. Glad to see they are not completely forgotten.

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post #18 of 43 Old 02-06-2013, 10:41 PM
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Haven't been to a drive-in since the 1970's. They were just moving away from the " window-hanger " speakers to radio broadcast of the soundtrack. The only thing I really didn't like about them was the getting in and getting out but we would just arrive early to get a good spot and mill around before the feature started. We would hit the concessions one last time after the movie for discounted refreshments and then wait until most of the traffic cleared out. Kids doing what kids do during this family event made up for the 3 or 4 hours spent. You just don't get that at the cinema these days.

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post #19 of 43 Old 02-07-2013, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizzack View Post

The Delsea Drive In in Vineland NJ is currently upgrading to a digital system. Believe it or not the place does some nice business on the weekends with first run movies and the snack bar is the best in the state. If you're in NJ/Philly head down there for an affordable double feature. Long live the drive in!

Delsea Theather. It's a great place to watch a movie. Only thing to watch out for is the mosquitoes. Use the most industrial strength DEET product you can find, the insects are about the size of small birds and will eat you alive. If you look at a map you will see why - it's right next to a marshy area.

They also have real butter for the popcorn instead of the artificial crap. I agree about the snack bar too - probably the best in any theater I've been to. If you want to take your own food/snacks you can - they will ask you if you are bringing any in and it's a small additional fee they charge you.
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post #20 of 43 Old 02-07-2013, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoogerBomb View Post

I go to the Galaxy Drivein Theater in Ennis Texas. They do such awesome business that they now have six screens that run double features including 3D movies. The snack bar is far more affordable than the typical movie theater and the place is setup so that it has that 50's and 60's feel. A truly awesome experience.

Second that. 3D digital projectors about 30 minutes from Dallas... http://www.galaxydriveintheatre.com/news/
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post #21 of 43 Old 02-08-2013, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by upinsmoke View Post

Delsea Theather. It's a great place to watch a movie. Only thing to watch out for is the mosquitoes. Use the most industrial strength DEET product you can find, the insects are about the size of small birds and will eat you alive. If you look at a map you will see why - it's right next to a marshy area.

They also have real butter for the popcorn instead of the artificial crap. I agree about the snack bar too - probably the best in any theater I've been to. If you want to take your own food/snacks you can - they will ask you if you are bringing any in and it's a small additional fee they charge you.

Very true about the mosquitoes aka NJ's state bird. biggrin.gif

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post #22 of 43 Old 02-08-2013, 02:04 PM
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I used to go to the drive-in with the family growing up in the 80s. We'd pop big grocery bags of popcorn and have a picnic. It was fun but all the locations have either turned into swap meets or are in bad neighborhoods so I don't even know if any exist in my town now. When I was in Barbados last month my g/f and I went to see Django at the drive-in. It was a blast. It rained, which was fun, and people would honk in lieu of applause so whenever someone got blown away the place would erupt in the sound of car horns.

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post #23 of 43 Old 02-09-2013, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel Chaves View Post

I would love for drive in theaters to make a come back, with most modern cars already having a surround sound speaker setup in their cars it could be possible to really enhance the experience, last time I was at a theater was when Jurassic Park first came out, talk about epic watching that movie on such a huge screen ^_^


Last time I was at one was for Jurassic park!! I was 7 and it scared the HELL out of me. Something about being in a car, in the dark, watching THAT kind of movie just made it so much more real. Sadly the drive in closed not long after that and the closest ones to me now are about 200 miles away near Seattle or Portland. I love the idea of drive ins expect for the booming wonderful audio that some (good) theaters can have.

I guess I almost would rather then play retro movies more that I don't really care if the whole place is shaking from the sound during an action scene. Would love to see Ghost Busters and Back to the Future and Indie and original Star Wars and everything playing in rotation every coupe years with others. (That is IF a drive in was near me)

I still think a switch to digital could help them. Maybe Fathom Events could make a custom membership tailored to drive ins showing the big fun retro summer blockbusters. The drive in basically just gets the movie over a satellite connection which should cut their costs a lot even with retro films.

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post #24 of 43 Old 02-11-2013, 10:01 PM
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I am about 35-40 minutes from the 99W Drive-in - Newberg, Oregon - outside Portland. I love going to the drive-in, it is well-run and shows two first run-movies during the drier half of the year. I've seen support for the drive-in here growing dramatically over the last six years I've been going regularly. The drive-in now commonly sells out when it gets a blockbuster like this past summer's Avengers.

Although I own a great, budget 105" front projection system, nothing beats my 7+ trips a year to the drive-in watching movies on release weekend with my dog in my lap, and chattin' it up with Mrs. Guru from the previews to the credits. $8 get's you a late night double feature that can easily run to 1:30am... in cool Portland summers and chilly spooky autumn. smile.gif

I've made it a point to particularly visit and support the drive-in during the 1-2 times a year they run a revival show like Goonies or the Warriors or Back to the Future or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Righting the wrongs of *not* seeing these movies in the drive-in originally.

I hope they can survive the digital investment. Losing the drive-in would be like someone taking my DVD collection away.
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post #25 of 43 Old 02-12-2013, 04:25 AM
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I remember the first drive in movie I was able to actually stay awake for... "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" ! I remember Dad would park the stationwagon backwards so we kids could sprawl across the back end with the tailgate down and enjoy the show. You could push a button on the window speaker and order food which was brought to your car on a tray, just like the "car hops" at the other "drive-in's" like A&W. It is regrettable that most drive-ins are now a thing of the past. The economics of all that space utilized only part of the time couldn't compete with more profitable use for the space.

NATO/Cinedigm program helps "major theater chains"... 12,200 screens for 276 operators... thats about 44 screens for each operator! Drive-in theater owners are not in that catagory, but they deserve all the effort (and more!) to help preserve this piece of Americana.

Since there really isn't a drive-in that is convienent for me to take my kids to, I have come up with a reasonable alternative. I grab the laptop (has a Blu-ray/DVD player), and the simple projector I use for powerpoint presentations, and I hang a white sheet off the garage in our back yard, and we watch movies outside! Sure, no "surround sound", yup, occasionally bugs biting... but still a lot of fun!
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post #26 of 43 Old 02-12-2013, 10:14 AM
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drive-in's are no longer profitable in urban locations. we have 1 operating drive-in in los angeles county! the digital upgrades required would probably be enough to push this last one out completely. however as many of you are aware, a projector and a bed sheet are all that is needed to have a private movie night outdoors. the backyard theater, i believe is the natural evolution of the drive-in. instead of actually driving there though, you simply walk out there! check out the outdoor theater page for a "taste" of the movie night life :P and when backyard theater (.com) gets back up and running, really see the full scope of what its like to simply "take it outside"! cool.gif


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post #27 of 43 Old 03-23-2013, 01:55 PM
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Would it make a difference if it was in digital?
Yes it doesnt sound or look anywhere near as good!

Analogue is and always was THE BEST!!!!
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post #28 of 43 Old 03-29-2013, 07:21 AM
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drive-in's are no longer profitable in urban locations. we have 1 operating drive-in in los angeles county! the digital upgrades required would probably be enough to push this last one out completely. however as many of you are aware, a projector and a bed sheet are all that is needed to have a private movie night outdoors. the backyard theater, i believe is the natural evolution of the drive-in. instead of actually driving there though, you simply walk out there! check out the outdoor theater page for a "taste" of the movie night life :P and when backyard theater (.com) gets back up and running, really see the full scope of what its like to simply "take it outside"! cool.gif

And here is the natural evolution of the outdoor drive-in. My client builds movie theaters, their customer wanted to add a drive-in to their multiplex. The solution? Rented shipping containers in the parking lot and a giant sheet. Look at this:


Drive-in screen based on shipping containers. The bottom row has wading pools full of water in it, to keep the wind from toppling the whole structure. It's huge. photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

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post #29 of 43 Old 03-29-2013, 09:01 AM
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That outdoor screen looks great!

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post #30 of 43 Old 05-21-2013, 06:25 PM
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The two screen Delsea Drive-In in NJ completed their digital conversion and has also added a "gene double feature night" to go along with the first run movies. Can't wait!

http://www.delseadrive-in.com/


Tuesday, 5/28/2013: CLASSIC SCI-FI
8:40 PM THE TIME MACHINE (1960) G 103 min
10:50 PM 2001 SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) G 141 min

Tuesday, 6/4/2013: CLASSIC TEEN FLICKS
8:45 PM FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF (1986) PG-13 103 min
10:55 PM ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING (1987) PG-13 102 min

Tuesday, 6/11/2013: CLASSIC HORROR
8:50 PM PSYCHO (1960) R 109 min
11:05 PM TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) R 83 min

Tuesday, 6/18/2013: DUDE NIGHT
8:50 PM COOL HAND LUKE (1967) PG 126 min
11:20 PM THE LAST DETAIL (1973) R 104 min

Tuesday, 6/25/2013: GIRL NIGHT
8:50 PM AMELIE (2001) R 122 min
11:15 PM THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE (1969) M 116 min

Tuesday, 7/2/2013: KID STUFF (and Old Softies too!)
8:50 PM DUMBO (1941) Approved 64 min
10:15 PM TOY STORY (1995) G 81 min

Tuesday, 7/9/2013: BEACH MOVIES
8:50 PM BEACH BLANKET BINGO (1965) UR 98 min
10:55 PM WHERE THE BOYS ARE (1960) Approved 99 min


The Delsea Drive-In will continue special Tuesday "movie genre" nights throughout the summer as long as there is sufficient patron interest.
COME EARLY AND HAVE YOUR DINNER AT THE DELSEA DRIVE-IN THEATRE.

The above post is 100% medically accurate

 

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