Once upon a time, drive-in theaters were a mainstay or life in rural America. Not so much anymore. But a Japanese auto giant is trying spark renewed interest in drive-ins with an online contest.
Honda (HMC) will provide money to purchase digital projection systems to five drive-in theaters chosen from a list of about 80 participants nationwide. The projectors cost about $75,000, an expense many rural drive-in theater owners say they cannot afford on their own, the Columbus Dispatch notes.
The contest comes at a critical time. Movie distributors will soon stop producing 35mm films, forcing theater owners to upgrade to more costly digital systems.
Web surfers can vote for their favorite theater at projectdrivein.com, a website created by Honda, up to September 9. The five drive-ins that get the most votes win the projection systems.
At the zenith of their popularity in the 1960’s, the U.S. had about 4,000 drive-ins. Currently, there are less than 400.
A Honda spokesperson noted that “everyone has this kind of positive nostalgia associated with drive-ins.”