With hundreds of drive-in theaters expected to close at the end of the year once studios stop distributing 35mm film prints, Honda is backing a national effort to save the screens built around car culture.
“Project Drive-In,” sponsored by Honda, aims to save as many drive-ins as possible that haven’t been able to make the switch to digital projection, and will supply at least five drive-in theaters with the projectors.
Voting began Aug. 9 and ends on Sept. 9.
The five winning theaters will be revealed shortly after that, with each theater hosting a special screening of Sony Pictures Animation’s “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” out Sept. 27.
“Cars and drive-in theaters go hand-in-hand, and it’s our mission to save this decades-old slice of Americana that holds such nostalgia for so many of us,” said Alicia Jones, manager of Honda and Acura Social Marketing at American Honda Motor Co. “We’re committed to helping the remaining drive-in theaters flourish with the move to digital projection.”
The first drive-ins opened in 1933 and reached their peak during the 1950s and 1960s, when there were more than 4,000 theaters across the country.
The National Assn of Theater Owners has been helping drive-ins make the transition to digital. As of mid-July, around 40% have made the switch, but the cost of the digital projectors, estimated at more than $75,000 per screen, has kept others from buying them.
On the “Project Drive-In” site, Honda will also host an online auction that features tickets to the Los Angeles premiere of the “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” premiere, as well as additional film-related merchandise.
Honda will also launch pop-up drive-ins at Honda dealerships across the country to help raise awareness, with free screenings of the animated sequel. Honda operates a network of more than 1,000 dealerships in the United States.