WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published April 16, 2012, 08:34 PM

Warren, MN, Drive-in Theater Fighting to Hold On With Digital Switch

WARREN, MN (WDAZ-TV) - This is the last year movie theaters will have access to 35-millimeter film, meaning if they want to air new movies, they'll have to go digital.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

WARREN, MN (WDAZ-TV) - This is the last year movie theaters will have access to 35-millimeter film, meaning if they want to air new movies, they'll have to go digital.

It comes with a hefty price tag and may force some smaller theaters to close. One of the last drive-in theaters in Minnesota is trying to hold out.

Just outside of Warren, MN, is the Sky-Vu Drive-in. It's been operating for nearly 60 years. Owner Leonard Novak has managed keep the lights on when drive-ins were no longer the trend and went dark.

"The only one between Minneapolis and the Canadian border," Novak said.

Novak's family has owned the drive-in for 40 years.

"It's something we bought years ago as a family investment," Novak said.

Over time he has made upgrades like replacing the window speakers with FM radio sound. He even has a website.

"This will be obsolete with the new digital system," Novak said.

Now Novak faces his biggest upgrade, 35-millimeter film movies will be replaced by digital chips by the end of the year. It's estimated to cost at least $70,000 for the new technology.

"If was to update an indoor theater in a small town, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't consider it. Our business is kind of a unique business," Novak said.

Novak says being one of only five outdoor theaters left in the state gives him has a niche and he's gambling going digital will be a box office hit.

"We will find that out. We are hoping so," Novak said.

There are some grants Novak will be applying for to help pay for next year's conversion. But it doesn't seem to be all about the money here. With or without film, some nostalgia is likely playing a part in Novak's decision in keeping the shows rolling here.

"Nope, it's going to be going. One way or other, we will finance it our ourselves if we have to," Novak said.

The Sky-Vu will have its earliest-ever opening this coming Friday, showing the movie Warhorse.

Tags: