New Jersey, the birthplace of the drive-in theater, is down to one active drive-in. But news this past week suggests that it’s going to stay around for a long time.
The Daily Journal of Vineland NJ and nearby towns reported that the Delsea Drive-In was a little slow opening this season because it installed digital projectors. “It was a very intense decision,” owner John DeLeonardis said of the investment of $135,000 for his two screens.
What’s especially nice about this story is the source of the money. It wasn’t Kickstarter or other fundraisers, it was the city of Vineland itself. According the The Daily Journal, “Vineland issued a $130,000 loan of Urban Enterprise Zone funds to finance the purchase. It’s repayable over 15 years at 5.5 percent interest.”
An agreement about virtual print fees (VPFs) appears to be what proved to be a reliable source of income to pay off the loan. Big indoor theaters have been getting VPFs from the movie industry to help pay for their conversion to digital movies, which are a lot cheaper for the movie industry to store and ship. Now a version of that is available for the Delsea, which will receive a $150 fee for each first-run movie it plays. I suspect that’s been true for other drive-ins, but The Daily Journal’s story is unusually thorough in its description of the VPF program. That’s just another reason why you should go read it!
My experience with the Delsea drive-in in May, was disappointing. I was disappointed by the radio interference, the screen format, the stains on the screen which distracted from the movie.
In light of all the excitement generated by the new, improved, all digital experience, I found no light, just a bad overall, night out at the movies. The screen has got to accomodate the actors, not chop part of their heads off.