Friday August 9, 2013

NORTHFIELD, MASS. -- The owner of the Northfield Drive-In announced to his Saturday night guests that the 65-year-old outdoor movie theater will go digital.

Mitchell Shakour made the announcement during an intermission of a triple feature to celebrate the anniversary of the drive-in that straddles the state line of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The news -- which was posted to the business' Facebook page -- was met with the honking of horns to represent applause, he said.

The drive-in's future had looked questionable in recent years as the equipment once standard in the industry quickly started becoming obsolete when most movie companies switched from film to digital media.

"This is totally the last year for film," Shakour told the Reformer last week before the decision had been made. But conversion for outdoor theaters comes with a lot of work and a hefty price tag.

Shakour said the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association projects the average cost for an outdoor theater to go digital -- with all the new equipment and technology -- is roughly $200,000. He said Tuesday that he and his family will have to work with Bergeron Construction of Keene, N.H., to get a quote on the work that needs to be done.

He said the 6,500-watt digital projector alone will cost $85,000 and splash twice as much light on the screen as the old film projector.


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Though it was advertised that an announcement would be made Saturday regarding the drive-in's future, Shakour said he and his wife did not make the decision until "the last minute."

Shakour's family purchased the business in 1968. It operates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with the final weekend of every season occurs on Labor Day weekend.