Monday, June 17, 2013

The Port Townsend Wheel-In Motor Movie

Port Townsend, Washington

A very small theater way up the peninsula in Puget Sound. The combination of overcast, ready-to-rain weather and the dense forest makes another distinctly Pacific Northwest setting. One of the two smallest theaters I've been to, in terms of cars that can be accommodated (the other was Kanopolis, KS), the owner told me, just about this time last year, that he expected to manage the transition to digital projection for his one screen. The area looks sparsely populated, but it's also a tourist destination, which can be a lifesaver for a drive-in theater. The concession stand, which he told me is almost all originally as his father built it 60 years ago, is large and well-appointed for such a small venue. If those tourists patronize the concession, they'll get to see digital projection and the theater will survive beyond 2013: drive-ins make essentially all their profit from food and other items at the concession, not from ticket sales. Checking the web site just now, it looks as though they are still actively raising funds for the transition, so I hope they have a great summer season.


lyle said...

Carl, this photograph shows a 'rolling' field which I assume is for better viewing. Is that common in drive-in's. Some of the ones from California look very flat.

Carl said...

Lyle, ramps are normal, but vary widely. Hollingshead, the inventor of the drive-in, got a patent on the design of semi-circular ramps, which was then thrown out as just a Greek amphitheater for cars, not patentable. If you can set up so the land slopes down to the screen, the ramps can be shallow. Also if the field is large and the cars widely spaced. If space is tight, you place the screen as high as possible and make steep ramps. All this of course is about sight lines over the cars in front of you.