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McHenry Drive-In Holds Fundraisers To Convert To Digital, Avoid Closing

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The McHenry Outdoor Theater hopes to convert from film to digital to stay open for business. (Facebook image)

The McHenry Outdoor Theater hopes to convert from film to digital to stay open for business. (Facebook image)

Lisa Fielding Lisa Fielding
Lisa Fielding is a news anchor and reporter for Newsradio 780. She...
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MCHENRY, Ill. (CBS) — It’s an issue that all movies theaters nationwide will have to face: whether to convert from film to digital.

Perhaps the most affected cinemas are the few existing drive-ins, like the McHenry Outdoor Theater.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding Reports

The price tag to install and covert to digital is $130,000. The new owner of the drive-in, which dates to the 1940s, is holding fundraisers to help raise the necessary cash.

“In the 1950s, there were approximately 4,000 drive-ins in the U.S. Today, there are less than 400. With this need to go to digital projectors, next season there will be even fewer. This is a critical time for drive-in theaters,” says Scott Dehn, president of Golden Age Cinemas, which operates the McHenry Outdoor Theater.

Hollywood has vowed not to distribute movies in non-digital format after the end of 2013.

Dehn says the drive-in holds a special place in the hearts of many.

“This theater has been around for 80 years and it’s been through depressions, recessions, wars, weather. It would be a shame that just a change in technology what be what would force it to close,” he says.

One fundraiser at the theater is scheduled Friday and Saturday, when all proceeds from ticket sales will help fund the new digital equipment. The movies include “Jaws, the second part of the double-feature. An online fundraiser has also been set up on the Kickstarter website.

The McHenry Outdoor Theater, 1510 Chapel Hill Road, shows movies on weekends through the fall. It has about 600 parking spots.

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