McHENRY – The 35-millimeter projector’s long run is about to end. Most major movie studios will stop distributing 35-millimeter film by the end of 2013, industry accounts say. That puts the fate of numerous theaters, including the iconic McHenry Outdoor Theater, in jeopardy.
It will cost about $130,000 to buy a digital projector and to add air conditioning and upgrade the electrical system in the projection booth, said Scott Dehn, theater owner.
“We need as much support as we can get,” said Dehn, adding that he is grateful and excited about a Volo Auto Museum and Radio Station 102.3XLC cross promotion that starts this week.
Volo Auto Museum Director Brian Grams said the museum and XLC have invested in the campaign to help drive more traffic to the theater at Chapel Hill and Lincoln roads, McHenry.
“The drive-in is one of those great facets of American culture,” Grams said. “Unless they can get a digital projector, the theater might very well be gone.”
To publicize the campaign, Waukegan-based radio station 102.3XLC will feature ads touting a contest into which weekend theater-goers automatically will be entered. Each week, one customer will win the “Superhero Seat,” plus free admission tickets for the entire carload, for the following weekend. Winners will be announced on the theater’s Facebook page.
Just what is the Superhero Seat? Chairs will be set up in the bed of a light blue 1963 Dodge pickup truck, which the museum will give away at an Aug. 24 promotion finale.
But what’s so special about a weathered ’63 pickup? Well, this one was used in the new “Man of Steel” movie, set for release this June. In fact, you can see the truck, being leaned on by actor Kevin Costner, in the movie trailer at manofsteel.com.
Plans are to show “Man of Steel” at the Aug. 24 promotion finale, Grams said.
“It will be an event with live broadcasting by XLC, with the host dressed as Superman, and I will be bringing out the Batmobile,” Grams said. “The second movie we’re shooting for is ‘Batman.’”
In addition to the cross promotion, Dehn is launching a fundraising appeal on indiegogo.com, he said.
“Every year there are fewer and fewer drive-ins,” he said. “There’re less than 400 left in the U.S. now, and it would just really be a shame not to have it.”
The theater season starts May 3 with “Iron Man 3.”