Reo Drive-In Theater to Swap Nostalgic Film for Digital Age

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The end of an era. Drive-in movie theaters are not nearly as popular as they once were, but one that thrives in the Tri-State is keeping up with the times.

Holiday Drive-In, in Reo, Indiana opened in 1955 with one screen and one 35 millimeter film projector. 59 years later the drive in bids adieu to ways of film and prepares for the digital age.

“Years ago they didn’t even talk about digital. This has only been like the last ten years.” Georgia Decker has worked at Holiday Drive-In for 23 years, but the outdoor movie experience has always been a part of her life.

“My mom and dad took me to the drive in. I took my kids to the drive in.”

As long as she’s been going to drive-ins she’s watched 35 mm film projections, but because the industry is moving to digital formats, this will be the last time film projections will be used at Holiday Drive-In.

“We gotta move with the times to stay alive, so we gotta change.”

The change won’t be cheap, costing $300,000-400,000 for five new projectors, and renovated the projection rooms.

“It has to be air tight, no dust. And of course we’re in the country so that’s kind of hard to do.”

But there will be some advantages to leaving film in the dust, in some ways it could restore some of the old drive-in icons.

“To pick actual old drive-in type movies would be fantastic.”

Decker says switching to digital could all the theater to play classic movies or host marathon showings.

“When I was young you had the dancing hot dogs and the clock in the corner, the countdown to intermission time. You knew how long you had to get back to the car to watch the movie. I’m hoping to have that to bring that back here.”

While the drive-in will be losing a bit of the nostalgic feeling of film it will be adding new possibilities with the digital format.

“You gotta change. Which I hate, but it’s all part of life.”

Decker says the new digital projectors will be installed and ready for when the drive-in reopens in the spring.

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