Dave Kinney of the Tri-Way Drive In Theatre had the task of finding a way to keep the movie mecca alive. With four outdoor screens on Michigan Road north of Plymouth the digital age had hit him hard. With the film industry entirely embracing the latest technology, Kinney was looking at a $75,000 price tag per screen to stay open.
It is nearly impossible to get first run movies on film and first run films are the Tri-Way’s life blood.
“One company has completely done away with film altogether,” he said. “You can get ahold of old movies on film but the problem is that people don’t come to see them. We’ve got a lot of competition out there with DVD’s, streaming video, services like Netflix. You have to make a trip to the theatre a unique experience or people aren’t going to come.”
A combination of fund raising efforts and a business loan made it possible for Kinney to keep three of the four screens up and running for the coming year with plans for the fourth.
“Between revenue and other fund raising we hope we can have the fourth screen operational by May,” said Kinney.
Some minor renovations are currently taking place in the projection booths at the Tri-Way to accommodate the new digital equipment that will be installed before opening in spring of this year. Opening date will be as usual – last of March or first week of April.
Kinney says that the Tri-Way will be offering the old speakers from the theatre for sale to those wanting a bit of nostalgia for $75.
“They will never be making these (speakers) again, they are one of a kind,” said Kinney. “People will be buying a little bit of history when they buy one. We’re also going to put one of the old projectors out in the picnic area. People will be able to see what they looked like.”
Information on the Tri-Way is available at http://www.triwaydrivein.com/ or search Tri Way Drive In Theatre on Facebook.