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Drive-in ends season with quadruple-feature

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>Film is wound to a reel in this picture of the Northfield Drive-In's projection booth. The booth will undergo a radical change in the off-season as the drive-in converts to digital projectors.

    Recorder/David Rainville
    Film is wound to a reel in this picture of the Northfield Drive-In's projection booth. The booth will undergo a radical change in the off-season as the drive-in converts to digital projectors.

  • NORTHFIELD (August 3, 2-13) — Northfield Drive-In owner Mitchell Shakour said the outdoor movie theater had been in his family since his dad bought it in 1967, and remains a family business. His wife Carla runs the snack shop, Shakour said, son Gabriel takes photos and manages the drive-in's Facebook page, and daughter Lili can often be found helping out at the snack shop or ticket booth. Recorder/Trish Crapo

    NORTHFIELD (August 3, 2-13) — Northfield Drive-In owner Mitchell Shakour said the outdoor movie theater had been in his family since his dad bought it in 1967, and remains a family business. His wife Carla runs the snack shop, Shakour said, son Gabriel takes photos and manages the drive-in's Facebook page, and daughter Lili can often be found helping out at the snack shop or ticket booth. Recorder/Trish Crapo

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>Film is wound to a reel in this picture of the Northfield Drive-In's projection booth. The booth will undergo a radical change in the off-season as the drive-in converts to digital projectors.
  • NORTHFIELD (August 3, 2-13) — Northfield Drive-In owner Mitchell Shakour said the outdoor movie theater had been in his family since his dad bought it in 1967, and remains a family business. His wife Carla runs the snack shop, Shakour said, son Gabriel takes photos and manages the drive-in's Facebook page, and daughter Lili can often be found helping out at the snack shop or ticket booth. Recorder/Trish Crapo

NORTHFIELD — The old arc-and-carbon projectors at the Northfield Drive-In will play their last four films this weekend.

Early Monday morning, after the credits on “The Conjuring” roll, projectionist Paul Bader will re-spool the film’s final reel, pack it back into its tin and retire. The drive-in itself is set to return next year, but with a digital projector, and without Bader.

Hollywood’s switch to digital distribution means that, by year’s end, the era of 35mm film will fade to black.

Tonight and Sunday night, the outdoor theater will close the 2013 season with its annual “dusk-to-dawn” quadruple feature. At $10.50 for adults and $6.50 for kids under 12, it’s less than $2.75 per movie, though there is no discount for those who come late or leave early.

At 7:40 p.m., once it starts to get dark, the hit kids’ movie “Despicable Me 2” will begin. It will be followed by PG-13 comedy “Grown Ups 2,” then R-rated action-comedy “The Heat.” After the third movie ends and people start to yawn, they’ll be scared awake by “The Conjuring,” a horror movie.

Those who feel they’ll be too tired to drive after the all-night show shouldn’t be discouraged from coming. Drive-in owner Mitchell Shakour has told several people on the theater’s Facebook site that they can camp out, as long as he knows in advance.

Drive-in fans in the tri-state area waited anxiously for most of the summer, as Shakour and his family thought long and hard about whether to close up or pay up — to the tune of $250,000 — to keep the theater open.

On Aug. 3, the 65th anniversary of the Northfield Drive-In’s first show, Shakour picked up a microphone and made the announcement that many had been waiting for. Attendance had exceeded the 200-car mark set by Shakour and his wife, and they would make every effort to go digital.

Though this weekend’s shows will be somewhat celebratory, there’s a lot of hard work ahead for Shakour and his family as they ready the drive-in for the digital age.

The new projector is expected to cost about $75,000, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The projection room will require renovation. Along with infrastructure upgrades, like bringing three-phase power to the projection booth, and installing a heating and cooling system for the little room, Shakour expects to spend another $150,000 to $200,000.

He also plans to make some improvements to the snack bar bathrooms, and the behind-the-screen playground as well.

Shakour said he hates to ask for handouts, but some generous patrons have been pitching in, a few dollars at a time, to help out with conversion costs.

His family has also launched a campaign to raise money toward the conversion. You can view a short video on www.saveourdrivein.com. The Shakours also plan to use the crowd-funding site www.kickstarter.com to further their fundraising.

Donations will be accepted by Shakour at the ticket booth on show nights. If you can’t get to the drive-in to donate, you can send a check to Northfield Drive-In digital fund, P.O. Box 487, Keene, N.H. 03431.

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

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