Two OH drive-ins show the wisdom of planning ahead

Elm Road Drive-In, a service of the Youngstown (OH) Vindicator, has a fine article about the digital conversion plans of its two nearby drive-ins, the Elm Road and the Skyway, both of Warren. Both of them seem to have conversion in the bag because of their forethought.

Bob Hreno, who with his family owns the Elm Road, told the Vindicator that the three new projectors and the other changes needed to accommodate them cost a quarter-million dollars. No problem! “We’ve been saving money all along for it,” he said. “Digital has been around for 10 years, but they have only made projectors big enough for drive-ins for the past two years.”

Another interesting note: Hreno said that he’s keeping a 35mm projector next to the digital in each booth. That’s also thinking ahead; maybe he’ll need it to run something that’s only available on film.

Brian DeCiancio has owned the Skyway for about 12 years and purchased the nearby 6-screen indoor Encore Cinemas in November. As the Vindicator put it: “We planned ahead,” said DeCiancio, when asked about how he raised the money. “We get strong support at our concession stand. Plus having the six-screen indoor theater helps, because it’s a year-round business.”

Yet another point I hadn’t heard before, one part of the high cost of digital conversions is the need to theft-proof the projection booth. I guess that hard drives are more attractive than 60-pound reels of film. Anyway, the article even includes a nice daylight marquee photo of Elm Road, so check it out!