The Spud keeps on rolling

I Love the Spud T-shirtThe Jackson Hole (WY) News & Guide published an article about the continuing fundraising efforts of The Spud Drive-In, across the border in Driggs ID. The first four paragraphs provide a great glimpse of what it’s like to visit a drive-in with your friends when it’s cold outside. And there are two exceptionally nice photos above the fold; one shows a grid of LP records on the ceiling of the snack bar, and the other shows the projector shooting its beam through falling snow. This is one you really need to go read!

If you’ve got a long memory or have exhausted the posts here, you might recognize The Spud as one of the first subjects of the Carload blog. The News & Guide article updates its status. T-shirt sales have raised about $15,000 toward the cost of digital projection, and now Tyler Hammond, one of the operators of The Spud, is hoping to sell enough advertising on its corrugated tin privacy fence to make up the difference.

The News & Guide is very encouraging. “Spud supporters are plentiful in Teton Valley. Residents use it as a landmark when giving directions, as in, ‘If you pass the Spud you’ve gone too far.’ It’s a spot for first dates, family bonding and birthday celebrations. For most of the past 60 years it was the only movie theater for miles. The Spud is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and the Idaho State Historic Registry.” Let’s all hope for the best!

More video about the tough times in Twin Falls

I know we just talked about the fate of the drive-ins of Twin Falls a few days ago, but you know I’m a sucker for any video with lots of drive-in photos. When I saw that KMVT, Idaho’s First News, prepared a fresh report yesterday, I just had to share it with you.

This video doesn’t cover much new ground, but we get to see a lot of great shots of the Motor Vu and the Grand Vu, along with the face behind the voice of their owner or manager or something, Larry Roper. I don’t know why its player has that “closing” word stuck by itself, but I’m happy to be able to embed it here. Warning: this video is not safe for anyone easily frightened by really large double chins. C’mon, Larry, please get help. We want you to stay with us running those drive-ins till you’re old and gray, okay?

Twin Falls drive-ins’ future looks bleak

The Twin Falls (ID) Times-News ran a fairly pessimistic piece this week about the drive-ins in that town. The Motor-Vu and Grand-Vu will open this spring, but they have no plans to make the switch to digital projection. When Hollywood stops sending film, they’ll just shut down.

Both drive-ins are owned by Interstate Amusement, which has a web site that mentions the other theaters in town but not the drive-ins. Maybe they’ll add something once they reopen? The Times-News article quotes Larry Roper, which it says is Interstate Amusement’s managing director, although last summer’s Times-News video, embedded above, says he’s the owner. Anyway, Roper sounds pretty glum about the future of drive-ins in general. “If we cannot get some kind of solution to the end of the 35-mm film or a way to put digital into the drive-ins, they all will be closing,” he said.

Wow! I hope that Roper is just so busy running all those theaters so that he hasn’t noticed that several drive-ins have already converted to digital, and many more have indicated that they’ll convert this season. For just one example, the Star Drive-In of Montrose CO recently announced on its Facebook page that it will convert even as its fundraising efforts continue.

At least the Motor-Vu’s Facebook page is more optimistic, posting “We have to upgrade to Digital which will cost upwards of $100,000.” And the Motor-Vu’s fans have already chimed in, talking about raising the money. (Strangely, I can’t find any web site for the Grand-Vu. If you know of one, post a comment here and I’ll add the link.) So let’s hope the Times-News just caught Roper on a bad day, and the good folks of Twin Falls find a way to keep their drive-in(s) for decades to come.