A last look at the big screens in the night sky

Posted Sept. 16, 2013, at 4:26 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 16, 2013, at 5:20 p.m.

As summer winks out in September’s cool dusk, Maine’s drive-in theaters will light up the night for a just few more weekends. Giant images will flicker across the screen while families munch popcorn on truck tailgates. Kids will fall asleep before the end of the second movie, and teenagers will probably make-out somewhere in the back row. Then, the credits will roll, the final few feet of film will trundle between the bulb and the lens. The lights will go out. Summer will be over.

One good thing about summer is that it always comes back. With any luck, so will the drive-in movies. None of Maine’s drive-ins have said they won’t be back next year, but the looming lack of 35mm film prints has put small movie operators everywhere in a bind.

The 74-year-old Saco Drive-In just won a digital projector from Project Honda. So, they should be just fine.

“Oh my God. I don’t even know how to explain it. So many emotions all at once,” owner Ry Russell said last week.

John Tevanian, owner of the Bridgton Twin Drive-In has been preparing for the conversion for a few years. He built a new, snazzier snack bar to help finance it. Last weekend, he shut down screen two and started remodeling to make way for a digital projector.

“That’s it for 35mm film on screen 2,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Screen one will be open a bit longer, but by next year, he’ll be all digital.

The Skowhegan Drive-In is running a crowdfunding campaign to aid with its conversion. Madawaska’s Skylite Drive-In has movies scheduled through Sept. 19.

Andrew Tevanian, at the Prides Corner Drive-In in Westbrook doesn’t have a definite plan for converting, but says he doesn’t plan on shutting down after this season. He said in August that as long as he was alive, the show would go on.

Let’s hope so.

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