First digital cinema drive-in in U.S. selects Barco

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Barco deployed its digital-cinema projectors at Spud Drive In in Driggs, Idaho, making the venue the first “true” digital drive-in in America.

While other outdoor theatres have utilized digital projectors to show DVDs to large outdoor audiences, Spud is the only drive-in to date to actually employ digital-cinema projection and surround sound, with 3D technology planned for August showings.

John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, commented, “Drive-ins are an important part of the theatre business. At NATO, we are pleased to see Barco providing a digital projector solution capable of illuminating drive-in screens. We are confident that drive-ins will continue to flourish in the digital age and congratulate the Spud on being the first of many drive-ins to offer their customers the digital experience.”

United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association (UDITOA) president Paul F. Geissinger stated, “We congratulate the Spud Drive In and their digital partner Barco in providing their patrons and the motion picture industry with the first digital projection system at a traditional drive-in theatre. This is an historic event for drive-in theatres, a true icon of Americana, which we view as only the beginning of what will be a huge transition to the digital age by drive-in motion picture theatres.”

“We looked at a lot of options, but the Barco projector was the ideal fit for the drive-in movie environment because of its low power requirements, liquid cooling, and of course, incredible image quality and reputation for reliability,” commented Spud’s chief operating officer, Keith Zednik. Spud plans to offer alternative-content packages to customers, including wedding receptions, nonprofit, club and community functions, and even live simulcast sports events and concerts.

The exhibitor launched its digital premiere with a double feature on July 9, showing Despicable Me and Robin Hood.

Roger Bockert, owner of Heartland Theatre Services who installed the new system, commented, “If anyone out there is still uncertain about putting digital in a drive-in, Spud’s experience will put their mind at ease. The results have been even better than expected as far as picture quality, light output and reliable image.”