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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Film-Yak   » Drive-in theatre must go digital or close (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Drive-in theatre must go digital or close
Frank Cox
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 919
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 01-15-2012 01:35 AM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Drive-in theatre must go digital or close
quote:
One of the last drive-in movie theatres in the province, the Twilite in Wolseley, is faced with closing down unless it can convert to a digital projection format.

The Twilite is hoping film buffs will help out with the $100,000-plus cost to make the switch, made necessary because movies distributors will no longer be sending film prints, beginning next year.

Diane Banbury's family has run the Wolseley theatre since the 1950s.

"There's got to be somebody out there that has a love for the past and the movies and movie memorabilia," Banbury said. "If they could get some money together than maybe somebody else could say 'Well, they raised 40,000, we'll raise 40,000.'"

Banbury is seeking sponsorship money and is planning a fundraising campaign.

"We'll do all the fundraising we can," she said. "But because we are such a small community every little sportsplex, and the curling club, and everyone else all needs fundraising all the time too."

Banbury's cousin, Don Zuba, runs the theatre. His dad Stan Zuba built it in 1954.

There are only a few drive-in theatres left in Saskatchewan and many of them are only open for a very short season.


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Justin Hamaker
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 01-15-2012 01:45 AM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My drive-in is in the same boat. I've considered doing something similar.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 7540
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted 01-15-2012 04:30 AM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thx to progress .. it hurts some. Definitely not fair at all..

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Ian Parfrey
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From: Imbil Australia 26 deg 27' 42.66" S 152 deg 42' 23.40" E
Registered: Feb 2009


 - posted 01-15-2012 06:37 AM      Profile for Ian Parfrey   Email Ian Parfrey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It would be cheaper for the Drive-ins to band together, pay for a negative to be struck and use independent labs to make prints.

It is highly doubtful that any drive in currently running would be able to sustain the kind of finance needed to go digital.

And what happens when the mediocre life span of these things expires?

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Edward Havens
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Berkeley, CA
Registered: Mar 2008


 - posted 01-15-2012 10:17 AM      Profile for Edward Havens   Email Edward Havens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Solano Drive-In, not two miles from where I am typing out this message, has had digital projection on one of their two screens for a year now. The other screen is expected to be digital by summer.

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Chris Slycord
Film God

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From: Redmond, WA, USA
Registered: Mar 2007


 - posted 01-15-2012 10:46 AM      Profile for Chris Slycord   Email Chris Slycord   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Edward Havens
The Solano Drive-In, not two miles from where I am typing out this message, has had digital projection on one of their two screens for a year now. The other screen is expected to be digital by summer.
Apples and oranges. That drive-in is in a city 42 times larger than the one in the article. It's not surprising that a theater in a big city can afford digital while one almost in the middle of nowhere can't.

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Frank Cox
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 01-15-2012 11:21 AM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Actually, Concord CA is 156.10 times larger than Wolseley Saskatchewan (according to the population figures on Wikipedia).

One thing that I didn't see in that article, though, is any offer to make it into a community theatre. Is it reasonable for a privately owned business (which this drive-in appears to be) to expect the public to hand over money to pay for an upgrade?

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Frank Angel
Film God

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From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 01-15-2012 12:30 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Anyone can go begging -- it's not illegal, but is it reasonable? I certainly don't think so. They are basically asking for an outright handout without any defined parameters. If it is a viable business, why won't the bank give them a loan? If the bank won't do it, then as a part buyer of a digital projector, I'd want to know why. I would want to know what happens if the owners can't keep operating even AFTER they get a digital projector. Is it a viable business to begin with? If they are asking for $100,000 (where are they getting this price from -- shouldn't it be more like $65,000?), then there should be a proviso saying if the business goes under, that projector gets sold and the monies go back to the contributors. Or as Ian rightly asks, after Series II is no longer DCI compliant and they need to get a Series III, then what do they do? Seems that should all be defined when such a large sum of money is involved.

The owners probably don't mean it to be a scam, but in reality, it pretty much is. If the contributors don't demand some kind of assurances in case of the What Ifs, they are foolish.

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Chris Slycord
Film God

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From: Redmond, WA, USA
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 - posted 01-15-2012 12:33 PM      Profile for Chris Slycord   Email Chris Slycord   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was going by his location in Pleasant Hill, and didn't bother checking what city the drive-in is in... and apparently it's in Concord [Smile]

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-15-2012 12:55 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What Frank said. And what happens if they raise, say, $60k? Do the "donors" get their money back if the $100k total that the "need" is not raised?

I am sure that this place provides a valuable service to its patrons and I am sorry if the business may get to the point where it is no longer viable, but I think it looks bad for a private business to seek public assistance, especially when the expense is an ongoing one that requires periodic replacement and maintenance, rather than a one-time-only expense.

In any case, they can stay open by booking film.

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Victor Liorentas
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From: london ontario canada
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 - posted 01-15-2012 01:35 PM      Profile for Victor Liorentas   Email Victor Liorentas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is why film should be helped along to coexist well into the future.It may seem expensive now but when you look at it long term,small print runs are cheaper than massive digital investments over the next 20 years.For smaller towns and drive-ins at least.
Of course they are not considered important enough to save , all the big players could care less. [Frown]

In fact it's part of the plan! [Mad]

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Tony L. Hernandez
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From: Windsor, CO, USA
Registered: Dec 2005


 - posted 01-15-2012 05:10 PM      Profile for Tony L. Hernandez   Email Tony L. Hernandez   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't think that your blanket statement about all DIs being unable to logistically sustain the cost of digital conversion is correct, Ian. Drive-In Theaters are individual businesses like any others. While some (perhaps even most; I don't honestly know) are undoubtedly money-burners kept alive for posterity alone, there are quite a few that are still viable businesses that make good money for their owners, management and staff. Our drive in does wonderful (albeit seasonal, due to Colorado's cold winters) business. We are a single screen with 500 car capacity and during the peak summer months, if you are not there within 20 minutes of us opening the gates, you ain't getting in. It is not uncommon for us to have a line of cars out to the highway (about 1 mile away) and we are sold out (if not oversold) on 9 out of 10 weekends. In fact, we have pondered adding not only a 2nd screen but a 2nd lot as well. The Holiday Twin DI in Fort Collins (some 10 miles away from my home) also does a ton of business and is sold out most nights as well.

That said, our drive in is the only DI that serves the entire Denver Metro area and the Holiday (in Fort Collins)serves a semi-large college city along with the fact that it is the only DI serving many other fair sized Northern Colorado towns and cities. I cannot speak for what these small town DIs do for business as I have never run one nor do I know any owners or operators of any.

From what I have seen, the drive-in is back. Weather or not this is yet another passing fad, I do not know. The drive in started with the post-war generation who loved the fact that for the first time in history, everyone owned a car (big ones, at that) and they did not want to leave them. With the baby boom, it also solved the problem of what to do with the little ones when they wanted to attend a show and additionally, they loved the fact that they did not have to dress up for the show, as was socially expected in that era. While that generation has largely died off and/or tired of the fad, we now have my generation that is a whole new beast any loves the drive-in for their own modern-day reasons. People now want to have control of their own sound (any many people pour lots of $$$ in their car sound systems), they want to text and talk during the film, they want to be able to smoke a joint or enjoy a beer at the movies, the die-hard, yuppie dog lovers of today hate parting with "Fido" for any amount of time and finally, this era's "baby boom" presents brand new problems that the drive in can solve. Women are once again having children younger and younger in life and many of them are single mothers. As a single mother, they cannot simply leave the kids with their husband or mother-in-law when they want a "girls night out" and their Taco Bell wages often prohibit hiring a baby sitter. At the drive in, with many (such as ours) offering free admission to children 12 and under, that problem is solved. Many of the upper-class young people are also starved for a personal taste of nostalgia, and the drive in is always a wonderful fix. So just as my WWII-era grandparents loved the drive in back in 1950 for the problems it solved in their lives, my generation loves the drive in for the unique problems it solves in theirs.
Fads come and go, however, and it's anyone's guess how long they will last as people are always changing. I have a friend who has been in the carpet business since 1969 and he mused to me a while back on how he sells and installs more shag carpet now than he ever did in the 70's. Go figure!

We can and will go digital, but only when we have no other choice. This is due to the fact that we prefer the quality of 35mm film as well as the fact that we do not want to put wear and tear on a new digital system that we do not need to be using at this time. Also, we speculate that the equipment may even be slightly better at the time we must convert. I believe the owners of the Holiday told me that they will be going digital in the very near future.

While I both like and advocate the "co-op" idea of a few theaters banding together to have prints made, I worry that with the entire industry's swing to digital, in a few short years we may find ourselves running worn-out antiques that will be next to impossible to find parts, support and service for. I think the print idea would work, but if we have no reliable equipment to run the said prints on, what do we do? This worries me more than the shortage of prints because I still have an indoor arthouse that runs a lot of 35 and 16mm archival stuff and will for the entire foreseeable future, but that's a whole 'nuther topic.

I like the community donation idea (as I said in another post some 2 months ago) but only time will tell if it works or not. There is NOTHING wrong with a private business owner asking for help to keep something running that he/she believes to be both important to and enjoyed by the community it serves. It is their choice to decide weather or not it is worth forking over "free" money to and if so, how much to give.

I know myself that there are businesses in my community that would greatly inconvenience me if they closed. For example, there is a nearby truckstop in my area that me and my family frequent, especially with me not getting off work until 1-5am and needing "dinner". It runs 24 hours, has good food at reasonable prices, is comfortable to sit in, has a great staff and is historic. I know that the owner (who I do not personally know) is making money hand over fist but if he were to get up and say that he needed a new freezer and would close if the community did not raise the funds to purchase it, I'd gladly fork over $50 so as not to loose something that I enjoy and helps my life. And I ain't rich...
Most of these small towns greatly value their old theaters and these people are too stubborn to let them go. In many cases, they are the area's one source of entertainment, only way to keep their teens and seniors from driving many dangerous miles on highways to seek other entertainment, an important source of tax revenue and last but not least, a great piece of history that puts one of the few important feathers in the town's hat.
I do, however, feel that groups/businesses that do this should carefully record who donated what and return all funds if the intended project fails. Keeping the money is no different than not handing over an item or rendering a service that one has paid you for.

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Justin Hamaker
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Lakeport, CA USA
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 - posted 01-15-2012 06:11 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Two points about the drive-in I operate. Because it sits on the same property as the hard top theatre, there is very little extra cost in operating our drive-in aside from the supplies, labor, and electricity used during operating season.

While it is not a high grossing drive-in, it does essentially provide us with a sixth and seventh screen for our cinema which allows us to drop movies a week or two earlier than we otherwise would. This provides us greater flexibility when we hit a log jam in the summer season.

Whether we are able to convert to digital will largely depend on whether they can establish a VPF plan for drive-ins. Otherwise, 2012 will likely be our last season, and even that is still unknown because we don't know what the outlook is for 35mm prints come summer.

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Tony L. Hernandez
Expert Film Handler

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From: Windsor, CO, USA
Registered: Dec 2005


 - posted 01-15-2012 06:27 PM      Profile for Tony L. Hernandez   Email Tony L. Hernandez   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Alas, Justin, this is why many small/old theaters, both indoor and outdoor, are in trouble. They have been able to limp along for this long because everything is paid for, most are family-operated and there is not much money lost in these money pits. At this juncture where a lot of money must be spent on them for the first time in decades in order for them to continue, it is up to a good-willed owner, community or organization to donate the funds if they want the theater to continue.

I was unaware that VPFs were not offered to DIs.....

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

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From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
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 - posted 01-15-2012 07:30 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Justin Hamaker
they can establish a VPF plan for drive-ins
..and right now, that is a huge hurdle for the DI owners to face where the majority of the venues are in seasonal locations along with being discount or 2nd run venues - not "tentpole" locations to attact VPF's.

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