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.
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.
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
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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