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Northfield Drive-In launches crowd-funding page

NORTHFIELD — Though the Northfield Drive-In closed for the season on Labor Day, it’s already hard at work preparing for next spring.

The age of 35mm film is quickly on its way out. Film prints of movies are becoming more and more scarce, and major motion picture companies have announced that they will no longer offer 35mm copies of their films by 2014. As movie theaters worldwide have begun the conversion to digital projectors, drive-ins, with their seasonal business, have lagged behind, and many have opted to call it quits rather than pay for the costly conversion.

With $150,000 to $180,000 in upgrades to be completed before the Northfield Drive-In shows its first digital film, there’s a lot to be done if the drive-in will open in April, as owners hope.

To help with the costs, the drive-in is turning to its fans.

The theater is using the popular crowd-funding site, www.kickstarter.com, to raise money for the conversion to digital film.

The drive-in’s Kickstarter campaign has a goal of $40,000. If it’s not met by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 12, the theater gets nothing.

If, however, the campaign raises $40,000 or more, the drive-in will get it all, taking a big bite out of its expected costs.

The Kickstarter page has already seen an outpouring of support, though there is a long way to go before it hits that $40,000 goal.

In Kickstarter tradition, the drive-in is offering its backers a little something for their support.

Those giving $10 get a free small popcorn and soda, $100 donors get an invitation to a donors’ night at the theater, $2,500 gets a family of four a season pass to the drive-in, and anyone pledging $10,000 or more gets the drive-in to themselves for a private event. There are several rewards offered for other amounts as well.

Backers of the project come from as near as the Pioneer Valley and as far as Texas, Washington, and even Australia.

As of Sunday evening, 162 people had pledged a total of $9,397 to the drive-in’s digital conversion.

While the projector itself will cost $60,000 or more, according to owner Mitchell Shakour, there are $100,000 or more in related costs. The theater’s projection booth will have to be outfitted with three-phase electricity and broadband access and the room will have to be heated and cooled even when not in use, to prevent damage to the sensitive projector. Add in heat, fire and burglar alarms, and the costs keep climbing.

Shakour and his family have already started to get the projection booth ready for its new equipment. If all goes according to plan, the theater will show its first digital film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in April.

To see the Northfield Drive-In’s Kickstarter campaign, go to goo.gl/SQnyX7.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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