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Honda Donates Equipment to Keep Drive-In Theaters Open

  • Project Drive-In launched to save theaters.
  • High cost of upgrading to digital threatens drive-ins.
  • Public invited to vote for favorites.

To bolster an American cultural icon, Honda announced its Project Drive-In program to help save drive-in movie theaters. Drive-ins across the country face a tough decision: Pay the high costs of changing to digital projectors or close their gates for good like so many drive-ins have done over the past few decades. Honda is helping by donating digital projectors to five drive-ins, and by raising awareness and urging those with these unique theaters in their communities to get involved.

The reason for the rescue effort is simple. The $75,000 per screen cost of switching from a traditional film projector to a digital one is too high for many drive-in theaters. As film distributors — those who provide movies on reels to theaters across the country — switch to digital-only distribution, theaters without digital projection technology will no longer be able to show the newest movies. Honda says this threatens the historic intersection of cinema culture and car culture.

“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 & Acura social marketing. “We’re committed to helping the remaining drive-in theaters flourish with the move to digital projection.”

Through Project Drive-In, Honda will provide digital projectors to five theaters. The public can vote for recipients at now until September 9. The five winners will be announced in September.

To raise awareness further of drive-ins and the financial hurdles they face, the automaker is encouraging people to support their local drive-in by pledging to see a movie or by donating to the Project Drive-In Fund. Honda dealerships nationwide are participating with pop-up drive-ins showing free screenings of the movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

The popularity of the drive-in theater has waned since its peak in the middle of the last century. In the 1950s and 1960s, around 4,000 drive-ins dotted the U.S. landscape. Now, around 350 theaters remain. Ensuring that these survivors can afford to change with the times may help them last another 50 years, entertaining new generations with the unique and very American combination of cars and the big screen.

What it means to you: Drive-ins need your help to survive the switch to digital projection. Get involved with Project Drive-In by voting for your favorite theater, donating to the fund or pledging to see a movie at a drive-in theater.

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