The World's Smallest Drive-in faces their biggest challenge: Go Digital or Go Dark!
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.