Brownsville Drive-In faces dwindling options

  • By Scott Beveridge September 25, 2013
Brownsville Drive-In is losing hope of survival without a costly digital projector, as are many outdoor movie theaters across the country. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

BROWNSVILLE – The manager of Brownsville Drive-In says he’s running short of ideas to save one of America’s dwindling number of outdoor movie theaters after losing a national contest sponsored by an automaker to win a digital projector the business needs to survive.

Drive-in manager Charlie Perkins said he hates to do it, but he’s considering holding some fundraisers to add to the small amount of money that has been raised to date to purchase two new projectors at a cost of nearly $200,000 for the business on Route 40.

“I don’t want to give up yet,” Perkins said Wednesday, four days after Honda announced the final four contest winners in Florida, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee.

In all, Honda gave away nine new digital projectors to drive-ins, while urging Americans to visits such a destination and consider making a donation to the theaters.

The only other such business in the two-county area, Skyview Drive-In in Carmichaels, managed to raised enough money to purchase a used digital projector. The movie industry said it will no longer provide films on 35mm prints next season.

Perkins said he started to have difficulty obtaining 35mm prints in the final month of the theater’s 64th season this year.

He said it’s easy to criticize drive-ins for not saving the money to make the transition to digital, but many people do not realize they make just 80 cents per ticket and have employees to pay.

News arrived Tuesday that gave Perkins some hope of opening next season.

“Some movies may be available in 35mm in the spring,” he said.

Scott Beveridge has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1986 after previously working at the Daily Herald in Monongahela. He is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s fine arts and art education programs and Duquesne University’s master of liberal arts program. He is a 2004 World Affairs journalism fellow.


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