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A Night at the Drive-In

Sunday, September 15th, 2013 No comments

When I was living in Mississippi, I was often jealous of things that my Twitter friends could do in their cities that I couldn’t do in Starkville. One of those things was going to a drive-in theater. I see tons of movies every year, but drive-ins are a part of cinema history I had yet to experience. That changed last night.
99W Drive-In

I know I searched for a nearby drive-in either before I moved or soon after. The 99W Drive-In is in Newberg, which is a 35-minute drive from where I live. This theater has been around since 1953. My friend Arturo and I went down to watch a double feature of Pacific Rim and The Conjuring for $8 each. I had seen both of them, but he hadn’t seen either of them. I had thought about going a few weeks ago, but they weren’t playing anything I wanted to pay money to see at the time. We got there early and got a space right up front. Each row has a little hill so you can park your car at an upward angle and get a more comfortable view of the screen. There were people there who were obviously more experienced at this than us. They brought chairs, blanket, blow-up mattresses, etc. Most of these people were in SUVs, vans, or trucks, and parked in reverse so they could lay down in the pack. I took some mental notes for next time.
99W Drive-In

It was packed by the time the first movie started. They played the two movies back to back, with an intermission in between. Along with previews for current movies, they played some advertisements from the 50s and 80s. I enjoyed seeing those 2 movies again even though it was weird hearing the sound through my car speakers. I had a great time there and I definitely plan on going back.
99W Drive-In screen

One thing I didn’t know until a few weeks ago is how much danger drive-ins are of going out of business. This is the last year that films will be distributed in 35mm and most theaters can’t afford the $75-$80K digital projector upgrade. Honda had a contest where they allowed you to vote on which drive-ins to save. They would donate a free digital projector to the top vote getters. When I found out about it, I spread the word amongst my local friends. Without this, 99W would probably have to close. As of last night, Honda had announced a few winners, but 99W was still waiting to see if they’d won. Earlier today I got a message from Arturo saying that 99W had won and they were doing free movies and snacks today in celebration. I’m glad that they’re staying in business and that I may have played a small part in it.
99W Drive-In won Honda contest