Without the digital projector, the 60-year-old family-owned drive-in theater could have been forced to close. Movie distributors are ending the use of 35-millimeter film, and the costly switch to digital projection would have been too expensive for the small theater. The projectors can cost between $50,000 to $70,000.
Honda created Project Drive-In as a national effort to save as many of Americas remaining drive-ins as possible. The project sought votes online for dozens of drive-in theaters across the country that could receive the new digital projector. Honda will give projectors to five drive-ins across the country.
More than 2 million votes were cast for about 100 theaters across the country. The voting was supposed to end Sept. 9, but Honda extended it until Sept. 21, meaning more theaters could receive the digital projectors.
This weekend, Honda announced winners in addition to 99W Drive-In, the Saco Drive-In in Saco, Maine; the Cherry Bowl Drive-In in Honor, Mich.; the Graham Drive-In in Graham, Texas; and the McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry, Ill.
The other Oregon drive-in hoping to win the contest is the Motor Vu Drive-In in Dallas.
Saving the 99W Drive-In theaters means saving romantic proposals, quality time with friends and family, and nostalgic experiences, said Alicia Jones, manager of Honda Social Media at American Honda Motor Co. Digital projection will help this small business create priceless memories for decades to come.
Free movie Sunday
The Francis family opened the 99W Drive-in Theatre in August 1953. The nearly 300-car drive-in had a single screen until 1983, when the indoor Twin Cinema was built on the property.
To celebrate, the 99W Drive-In, 3110 Portland Road, Newberg, will show its movies Sunday evening, Sept. 15, without charge to the public. Doors to the drive-in open at 6 p.m., with a double bill of Pacific Rim at dusk, and The Conjuring.
As part of the award, drive-ins that receive the Honda awards will have a chance to show the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 before it goes to other theaters. The movie premieres Sept. 21 in Los Angeles.