Without film, Hi-Way faces tough choices

The Daily Freeman of Hudson Valley NY ran a story that I expect to see duplicated in dozens of other towns. Now that the Hollywood studios have stopped supplying film prints of their movies, the Hi-Way of Coxsackie has to decide what it’s going to do about the coming drive-in season.

According to the Daily Freeman story, Roger Babcock and his wife bought the Hi-Way in 1996. Since then, he expanded from one screen to four, and he takes pride in maintaining his fleet of dependable, workhorse film projectors. “All I replace is bulbs and a gear here and there,” Babcock said.

Now come the tough choices. If Babcock switches to digital, how many projectors can he afford? He’ll need to upgrade the projection booth to “clean room” conditions with heat, air conditioning, air filtering, and an internet connection. Where will he get the money for all that? Virtual print fees from the studios? Social Security? For much more about the Hi-Way and its future, you’ll just have to read the article.