October 13, 2013

Help Save an American Moviegoing Tradition by Funding Honda's 'Project Drive-In'

project drive in honda movie theater digital projection film cinemaWhen was the last time you saw a movie at a drive-in theater? What would you do if you knew you could help save the few remaining drive-ins from "going dark" forever? Interestingly enough, American Honda (yes, that Honda) is giving you that exact opportunity. According to its Project Drive-In campaign, there are merely 368 drive-ins still open for theatrical screening in the US. As many drive-ins face the financial leap of upgrading to digital projection -- or the looming alternative, shutting down permanently -- Project Drive-In has helped save 9 theaters, donating digital projection systems to 5 of them outright. There's still many theaters, however, that could use some serious help. Read more for details on Honda's ongoing Project Drive-In & Indiegogo campaign.

Here's the video and some details from the Project Drive-In Indiegogo going on at the moment:


Honda donated five digital projectors to save five drive-ins. America’s votes at projectdrivein.com decided which of the 126 participating drive-ins received the projectors. Through this fund, additional funding from Honda and a partnership with Christie Digital Systems, we were able to award four additional digital projectors. We took the first step. But we can’t stop now. There are still over 140 drive-ins that need to convert by the end of the year. Let’s keep going until we save this classic part of American culture.

The Project Drive-In website also features a pretty nifty interactive map of drive-ins across the country. The map marks locations as either "saved" or "not converted," and affords each drive-in its own personalized campaign photo or video and description. It also automatically provides you a list of drive-ins local to you if you're based in the US.

I'm all for the work that's been done so far, but it is still just a fraction of the total theaters that need help -- even among the 126 drive-ins participating in the project.

Here is another video headlining the campaign's homepage:


It may seem strange for a car company to spearhead this campaign, instead of -- well, some company more tied to the world of cinema or something. And yes, there's the fact that Honda isn't even really an "American" car company, though such a designation doesn't mean as much these days.

Of 'the Big Three' car companies, Chrysler is the only one drawing direct attention to roots in Detroit (specifically) or America (in general) -- and Chrysler is a subsidiary of Fiat. In other words, raised-eyebrows aside, why not a car company, and why not Honda? From the Indiegogo:

Cars and Drive-ins go hand in hand. So who better to help save the drive-in than a car company? What better company than American Honda? Since 1933, these iconic outdoor screens have been built around car culture. Honda understands that the classic drive-in movie theater is an important part to our American heritage.

At the end of the day, I think it's a pretty remarkable move on Honda's part. I don't even care if it makes sense or not. The organization of drive-ins in need and moviegoers willing to help them, well, that's a pretty respectable undertaking in my book. If you want to pledge to visit a local drive-in, make your own contribution, or simply read more, see the links below.

What do you guys think of Project Drive-In -- and moreover, the state of drive-ins these days? Will you be making a contribution to the cause?


Your Comment


I'm a projectionist in a cinema in New Zealand and the upgrade for us will cost about $120,000. To make it worse, Rialto and stuff will be distributing thier films with a 200 dollar base fee. Wheres my crowdfunding.

October 13, 2013 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM


Honestly Drive-In's have never held any appeal to me. They seem like a relic of a bygone era and I say this as someone who went to the drive-in as a child. I also remember it didn't really compare to how much I enjoyed movies in a theater.

This seems like something that older people want to hold onto because it reminds them of younger days. The thing is, you're at the mercy of the weather and the picture, sound and noise levels aren't as good as a theater experience.

I live close to a remaining drive-in theater and have zero interest in seeing a movie there. Honestly I'd rather see money like this go to smaller art-house theaters and that sort of thing. Then again that's just my opinion.

October 13, 2013 at 4:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM


See that's something that's completely different for me. I'm in my early 20s and going to the drive-in is still something that's a lot of fun. I guess it depends on the kind of community you live in.

October 14, 2013 at 9:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM


A multi unit projection with the edge-blending software shouldn't run more than $25K. Below is the Matrox set-up but there are many others. You don't need a super-expensive 4K Barco or Christie piece for this.

October 13, 2013 at 4:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM


The real question is do you understand the equipment that is required to play back separate images at 24 fps, along with 7.1 (and potentially atmos) audio? No? What about the infrastructure in order to decrypt the heavily protected copy of the film? Making 3 projectors work beside one another is one thing, screening an actual film...

October 14, 2013 at 2:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM


Just feed a BluRay into an pro quality upscaler. So, you won't play the first run movies, which are, of course, available on your average East European and Asian web site at the same time as they are released in the US. And if you need to add a decent server to crack the DCP to run major releases in their first week out, that shouldn't be more than a few grand on top of that.

October 14, 2013 at 10:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM


"Project Drive-In has helped save 9 theaters, donating digital projection systems to 5 of them outright."

One of those five digital projectors went to the drive-in at my small college town Newberg, OR!

It was so cool seeing the community coming together and posting online about it a month or two ago, getting people to vote for our drive-in. I was skeptical at first that it would make a difference, but I'm ecstatic to say that our drive-in isn't going anywhere for now. Shout out to Honda for doing this!

October 13, 2013 at 7:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM


There is a drive in not far from me and I got maybe once a year. You see some young families with babies in the car and kids running round on the playground. It's also great if you have a decent car stereo. It would be a shame if we lost all of them. They're time has passed but it would be nice to keep a few.

October 13, 2013 at 8:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

BIlly C

I love the drive in and wish I could go more often. Have many fond memories of it and will be making a contribution to keep drive ins alive.

October 13, 2013 at 11:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM


Honda doing some free marketing for itself...

October 15, 2013 at 2:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM