Under the gun to go digital, Honda lights up campaign to save drive-in theaters

honda lights up campaign to save drive in theaters under the gun go digital linkdriv

When your grandparents (and great grandparents) were teens and wanted to get in a little private time, they paid 50 cents to go see a couple of forgettable movies at a drive-in theater. Groping and lip-locking complete, your fore-bearers would then try to get home by curfew. What was the movie about? Who the heck knows

But as multiplexes and home theater systems proliferated, drive-in theaters steadily disappeared. Where there used to be thousands in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s, there are now only about 350 remaining and most are labors of love for their owners rather than cash cows.

Now, drive-in owners are facing an end-of-year do-or-die technology deadline imposed by Hollywood as the studios leave physical film behind and fully convert to the digital distribution of movies. A digital projector with the power a drive-in needs can run from $55,000 for a used machine to over $85,000 for a more powerful model. If a drive-in has multiple screens, they will need multiple projectors. You can’t just use off-the shelf home or business projectors from Amazon.com.

Honda is stepping up to help with their “Project Drive-In” campaign that combines crowd-funding of new projectors, publicity for drive-in theaters and a public vote in which five drive-ins will be given new projectors on Honda’s tab. With most drive-in’s counting profits (if any) in the hundreds of dollars per week, many can’t afford the spendy projectors and will be forced to either close down or show old-school science films to the one carload of retro geeks who will show up. In other words, many will end up going under.

Crowd-sourcing has been a success for many projects and we think saving your local drive-in is a worthy one. If you’ve never been to a drive-in, you should give it a go. Bring some lawn chairs. Most show first or second-run movies and compared to going to the mutliplex, it’s usually pretty cheap as well (depending on how far you have to drive). It’s a great meld of American car culture, cinema and neighborliness. Just try to get home by curfew.

The 99W drive-in outside Portland, Oregon has been a family business for three generations.
The 99W Drive-In outside Portland, Oregon has been a family business for three generations.

Photo credits: Top: O. Winston Link museum collection   Bottom: 99W Drive-In website

Cars

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Home Theater

How to know if you’ve got great Dolby Atmos sound

Dolby Atmos surround sound has become the holy grail for home theater lovers who want the best possible sound from their systems. But getting Dolby Atmos isn't as straightforward as you might think. Compatibility problems between components…
Cars

600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo's return to the coupe segment just took an interesting turn: the model will join the Polestar lineup, and it will get a 600-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Polestar 1 will be built in China starting in 2019.
Cars

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is the sexiest wagon ever

Aston Martin has revealed new photos of the limited-production Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. The Vanquish Zagato line now includes the Shooting Brake, Coupe, Volante, and Speedster, each with bespoke styling.
Cars

Nissan and Italdesign’s GT-R50 concept will become a $1.1 million reality

The Nissan GT-R50 is a customized sports car built to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and design firm Italdesign. Underneath the sleek bodywork sits a 710-horsepower engine fortified with race car components.
Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Cars

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
News

World’s fastest electric race car to display at Petersen Museum

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car smashed the all-time record at the hill climb for which it was named. The all-electric VW record-holder will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until February 1, 2019.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

This freewheeling Army truck-turned-tiny home is a labor of love

Most tiny homes are models of efficiency but one British metal worker has redefined the idea, converting an old Army truck into a mobile tiny home that comes with a bed, a sofa, a shower, and a beer garden.
Cars

Take a friend stargazing at 202 mph in the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider

McLaren has introduced the 2019 720S Spider. As its name implies, it's a convertible variant of the 720S coupe. The company promises the Spider retains the coupe's dynamism and agility thanks in part to the widespread use of carbon fiber.
Cars

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.