Newberg drive-in theater in contest to help go digital

Newberg drive-in theater in contest to help go digital

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by KGW staff

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kgw.com

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 23 at 7:12 PM

NEWBERG, Ore. – Indie movie theatres have been trying to make the switch to digital projectors, with many turning to crowd-funding sources like Kickstarter to raise the money.

But, drive-ins also must make the switch to digital by the end of the year. The last film-only drive in Oregon is in Newberg.

The owner is part of a nation-wide contest in hopes of winning a digital upgrade.

The 99W Drive-in is a third-generation family-owned theatre in Newberg. It opened July 31, 1953 and is now celebrating 60 years of movie going – all of it using film.

But, as with all theatres, the studios are phasing out film and going all digital. Digital projectors are expensive and 99W Drive-in owner Brian Francis found out about a contest from Honda.

The top five vote-getters win an $80,000 digital upgrade.

“We're like the last to change. We’re the slow one to go digital, but it's time now to do that and films will be distributed on a hard drive,” Francis said.

The theater is just one of a handful of drive-ins left. In their heyday, as many as 4,000 drive-ins dotted the American landscape. Today there are only 350 left, and only five west of the Mississippi.

Voting ends in 16 days.

You can cast your vote daily on-line here.

Francis said if they don't win, they will somehow make the conversion. He said he knows how important the drive-in is to Newberg and the history of drive-ins.

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KGW business reporter Joe Smith contributed to this report.

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