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The World's Smallest Drive-in faces their biggest challenge: Go Digital or Go Dark!

The Backstory

Nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont lies the Randall Drive-In Theatre, the world's smallest remaining drive-in. The theatre was built literally in Al Randall's back yard and has been providing family affordable fun under the stars ever since. Built in 1954, and celebrating its 60th Anniversary this season, the Randall Drive-In Theatre is one of only 4 remaining drive-ins in the state of Vermont. Drive-Ins are a piece of Americana that once dotted the landscape with over 4,000 theaters during their heyday.

Randall Drive-In Theatre Original Marquee
Randall Drive-In Theatre Original Marquee

The Randall Drive-In has stood the test of time enduring the 1980’s when other media options (VHS, Cable) became prevalent and attendance faltered. Even Mother Nature has impacted the drive-in with recent hurricanes Irene & Ida dropping the back field into the nearby White River and reducing the car capacity to below 150 making the Randall the smallest remaining drive-in. While all previous challenges have been met, digital cinema now threatens to close down this drive-in for good.

The last 8 years have seen the drive-in leased by different parties willing to run the theater as a “community theatre”, which has greatly benefited the area residents. As is often the case with leased drive-ins, they were run year- to-year without looking forward to the dangers that digital cinema would present. At the end of the 2012 season, many people believed it to be the last for the Randall Drive-In, a sentiment re-enforced when winter storms ravaged the screen.

Drive-In Screen April 2013 after winter storms
Drive-In Screen April 2013 after winter storms

Seeking to restore the Randall to its former glory longtime patrons Adam Gerhard and Regina Franz formed Capture the Dream, LLC and leased the property for the 2013 season. They quickly set to work on renovating the theater. The entire projection booth was updated with high end quality 35 mm equipment to provide the best possible picture on the newly repaired and painted screen:

Repaired and painted screen...ready for business May 2013
Repaired and painted screen...ready for business May 2013

 Many changes we also made to the theatre in 2013, including:

  • Lowered admission prices so families could enjoy the newly renovated theatre,
  • Expanded season starting before Memorial Day and going past Labor Day for the first time in 60 years!
  • Introducing triple features not once but SIX times in 2013
  • Customer Appreciation carload specials
  • Attention to details and Dedication customer service
  • An upcoming music video was shot this summer at the Randall:
Boston-based band Whispering Ghost's upcoming debut music video being shot at the Randall Drive-In
Boston-based band Whispering Ghost's upcoming debut music video being shot at the Randall Drive-In

 The changes our company made to Randall had an immediately impact and the Randall is having the best season in over a quarter century with record attendance and sellout nights. We increased advertising as well as a new website and Facebook page which has people travelling from near and far just to spend a night under the stars with us.

The Challenge

After a record season, it has become quickly apparent that digital cinema won't wait a few more years as many originally believed. Our dream has been to run a drive-in movie theater and rather than have this renaissance season be a Swan Song for the Randall Drive-In, we are asking for assistance so our company can obtain a digital projector and we can keep running drive-ins for many years into the future.

Digital Cinema comes at a staggering price: $75,000 to $100,000! For the world's smallest drive-in, funding this alone is not a viable option. We run virtually non-profit with our passion for drive-ins keeping the place open so local residents can enjoy family time under the stars. What we offer is an experience that is a throwback to simpler times. In the ever evolving digital world, it is important to preserve these opportunities for families to come together and enjoy time outside.

Patrons start gathering at the venerable Snack Bus as the drive-in opens for another night under the stars
Patrons start gathering at the venerable Snack Bus as the drive-in opens for another night under the stars

We have put much effort into the theatre this year and are asking the community to help fund our companies' quest to own a digital projector so we can keep running drive-ins and living our dream.

The future of cinema....either we have one, or we go dark
The future of cinema....either we have one, or we go dark
Randall Ticket booth as the sun set for another night of movies...
Randall Ticket booth as the sun set for another night of movies...
Don't let the sun set on another drive-in...preserve this piece of Americana, the world's smallest remaining drive-in
Don't let the sun set on another drive-in...preserve this piece of Americana, the world's smallest remaining drive-in

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Our goal ($45,000) is only a portion of the estimated $75,000 upgrade cost. We have worked diligently this season with our fundraising and will continue to do so to reach our final goal. Our 50/50 raffle and DVD giveways have been a huge success and already have us well on our way to bridging the gap to complete this project. We also have many other initiatives planned including obtaining corporate sponsorships and selling digital advertising space for the upcoming 2014 season.

However, the best way to ensure we meet our goal is to exceed the $45,000 goal on this project and fund the entire venture through crowdfunding. In the event that does not happen, we will continue working our other avenues such as the Bethel Business Association for loans to partially fund this upgrade.

All season we have been told we cannot do things...and we have consistently stepped up and done them anyway.

Challenges presented to us so far:
We were told the drive-in is too rural to have a season longer than Memorial Day to Labor Day...we promptly opened "Star Trek: Into Darkess" the week before Memorial Day.

We were told First run movies can't be shown at this drive-in...we have showed them all season.

We were told triple features wouldn't work...we did not one of them, but SIX!

We were told the area is not good for horror movies...we promptly opened zombie flick "World War Z" and sold out 2/3 of our field.

We were told the drive-in is too rural for weekday showing....we opened on Wednesday July 3rd and we overwhelmed with a record weekday crowd backing lines onto the highway.

We were told that we should close against the Tunbridge fair as we wouldn't get any customers...we offered $5 carloads and we were packed.

We were told we couldn't do well if we stayed open past labor day...it is Oct, we are still going strong booking the #1 movie in the nation!

It is this kind of track record and attitude that demonstrates we can and will rise to the challenge. We need your help initially, but if this project is funded, we will rise to the challenge and see this thru. Our company WILL get a digital projector with your help and generosity.

FAQ

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    16 backers

    Saw V: You came, you saw, you supported us! You will receive our undying gratitude and a free small popcorn on your next trip to the drive-in. You will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre and your name will be listed as a Bronze Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    13 backers

    Cheaper by the Dozen: You will receive one pack containing 12 glow bracelets of assorted colors! You will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre and your name will be listed as a Bronze Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    21 backers

    The Flying Saucer: You will receive a Randall Drive-In Frisbee and a medium popcorn. You will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre and your name will be listed as a Bronze Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    14 backers

    Chocolat Lovers: You will receive a Randall Drive-In Hot Chocolate Mug for those cold nights at the drive-in, a medium popcorn, and a Randall Drive-In Frisbee! You will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre and your name will be listed as a Bronze Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    3 backers

    All Dogs go to Heaven (The Drive-In!): Special care package including dog treats and a chew toy for our four legged friends who visit the drive-in. Cat lovers can substitute in a cat care package with catnip toys and treats. You will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre and your name will be listed as a Bronze Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    5 backers

    Dinner On Us: Cheeseburger, Fries, and a Large popcorn (substitutions allowed)! Also a Randall Drive-In Hot Chocolate Mug and Frisbee! You will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre and your name will be listed as a Bronze Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    25 backers

    Taking the shirt off our backs: You will receive a Randall Drive-In T-shirt, XL Popcorn, Hot Chocolate Mug, and Frisbee. Additionally you will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    4 backers

    Wanted Poster: You will receive a movie poster, XL Popcorn, a Randall Drive-In T-shirt, Coca Mug, and Frisbee. Additionally you will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    1 backer

    Carload Special: You will receive a carload pass for the 2014 and a XL Popcorn. Additionally you will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    8 backers

    Popcorn Addict: A Bottomless Ceramic Popcorn Tub refillable for free for the entire 2014 season at the Randall Drive-In! Additionally you will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    10 backers

    Devoted Fan: You will receive two adult movie tickets, XL Popcorn, a Randall Drive-In T-shirt, Coca Mug, and Frisbee. Additionally you will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    1 backer

    Wanted Poster: The Sequel: You will receive two movie posters, XL Popcorn, a Randall Drive-In T-shirt, Coca Mug, and Frisbee. Additionally you will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    0 backers

    Admission: 8 Movies passes for the 2014 season. Additionally you will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    4 backers Limited (96 left of 100)

    Going Postal: Your name on the speaker post of your choice along with two movie tickets, XL Popcorn, a Randall Drive-In T-shirt, Coca Mug, and Frisbee. Additionally you will get 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    0 backers

    Throwing your support behind us: You get a set of popcorn and soda shaped throw pillows for those late triple feature nights at the drive-in along with two movie tickets, XL Popcorn, and 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    1 backer

    How To Get Ahead By Advertising: Your Ad displayed on our handouts given to every customer entering the drive-in for the entire 2014 season.

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    0 backers

    Last Night Enthusiast: You get a set of popcorn and soda shaped throw pillows and a 60" X 50" movie night throw for those late triple feature nights at the drive-in along with four movie tickets, XL Popcorn, and 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Silver Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    1 backer

    Movie Addicts: Season pass for two people which includes a medium popcorn for EACH visit, and 30 frames of 35mm film played at our theatre! Your name will be listed as a Gold Donor on our website in a special donors section. Thank you for your contribution and support!

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    1 backer

    The Secret to Your Success: Your Logo displayed on our screen prior to each nights movies and your Ad on our handouts given to every customer entering the drive-in for the entire 2014 season.

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    2 backers

    The Color of Money: A Banner hung under the screen for your business, your Logo displayed on our screen prior to each nights movies, and your Ad on our handouts given to every customer entering the drive-in for the entire 2014 season.

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    1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)

    Million Dollar Baby: Your companies banner hung under the screen for your business, your 30 second advertisement played on our 55ft screen prior to each nights movies, and your Ad on our handouts given to every customer entering the drive-in for the entire 2014 season.

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    0 backers

    Easy Money: Have you next corporate gathering at the drive-in (limited to 150 cars) for a private screening of a movie of your choice (based on availability). A Banner hung under the screen for your business, your Logo displayed on our screen prior to each nights movies, and your Ad on our handouts given to every customer entering the drive-in for the entire 2014 season.

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    1 backer

    Brewster's Millions: Have you next corporate gathering at the drive-in (limited to 150 cars) for a private screening of a movie of your choice (based on availability). Free popcorn and soda provided for all attendees! A Banner hung under the screen for your business, your Logo displayed on our screen prior to each nights movies, and your Ad on our handouts given to every customer entering the drive-in for the entire 2014 season.

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Funding period

- (56 days)