We're very pleased that the Motor-Vu Drive-in theater in Riverdale has found a way to stay in business, even as the movie studios phase out 35 millimeter film for digital copies of films.
There are so few drive-in theaters left in the U.S. Most estimates tag about 350 remaining in business. The high cost of digital projectors will likely reduce those numbers over time.
As we have reported, the owners of the Motor-Vu have been able to obtain digital projectors for the theater's screens without having to pay the $60,000-plus per screen that a digital transformation requires.
With luck, our slice of the Top of Utah will continue to have an alternative in which theater-goers can take their vehicles to the outdoor big screens at dusk, let the children fall asleep in the back seat, and watch two movies until midnight approaches.
It's an iconic experience. Frankly, drive-in theaters are a part of Americana. We'll mourn the eventual loss of 35 millimeter film, and the careful art of screen projection that involves fixing scratches on film and carefully operating the projectors.
Frankly, to keep a drive-in theater as an option for movie-goers has not been an easy task for decades, and we applaud the resilience of its owners that has kept the Riverdale drive-in theater still operating 13 years into the new century. At one time, there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in the U.S. -- now fewer than 10 percent of that number remain.
As we have mentioned, the cost of changing from 35 millimeter to digital projection will likely eliminate even more drive-ins. But one plans to stay here. The Motor-Vu has weathered the popularity of VHS, then DVD, and other theater challenges.
And that makes us pleased, and proud to have a local drive-in theater, a place where we still have the option during the summer of spending several hours at the movies without leaving our front seat.