There was a time when a night of good entertainment meant loading the kids in the car, driving to city limits and taking in a drive-in movie as dusk set in. Car-bound audiences munched popcorn and candy while watching the latest hit movies, as well as campy sci-fi and monster movies.
Drive-in theaters have fallen on hard times. Operators now compete with state-of-the-art cinema — equipped with cushy seats, surround sound and climate control — as well as increasing home access to millions of movie titles with only a few clicks of a mouse.
The death knell for the nation's remaining 357 drive-in theaters could be the digital switch. Movie studios have committed to a phaseout of all 35 mm film in favor of digital files to play films. The cost to theaters is approximately $70,000 for a new digital projector, as well as more to protect projectors from the elements.
Film critic Garen Daly told Boston Public Radio that New England's drive-in theaters aren't immune to the financial pinch. The area boasts many durable drive-ins that have weathered the decades and played films every summer. Their resilience will be tested by this digital switch.
Want to support a theater? Here's Garen Daly's list of New England drive-in movie theaters.
- Bridgton Twin Drive-In Theatre, Bridgton, 1957
- Junction General Store And Entertainment Park, Brownsville, 2007
- Prides Corner Drive-In, Westbrook
- Saco Drive-In Theater, Saco, 1939
- Skowhegan Drive-In, Skowhegan, 1954
- Skylite Drive-In, Madawaska, 1973
- Leicester Triple Drive-In, Leicester, 1967
- Mendon Twin Drive-In, Mendon, 1954
- Wellfleet Drive-In, Wellfleet, 1957
- Milford Drive-In Theater, Milford, 1958
- Northern Nights Drive-In, Lancaster
- Northfield Drive-In, Hinsdale, 1948
- Weirs Drive-In Theater, Weirs Beach, 1949
- Rustic Tri-View Drive-In, North Smithfield, 1951