Barco, the global leader in digital cinema technology, announced today that it has deployed its digital cinema projectors at Spud Drive In, 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 audio, 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 theater 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.”
When Spud made the decision to go digital, timing was of the essence. Since the drive-in movie season is relatively short in Idaho, it was important to get a projector online quickly for the June opening. Barco was able to provide a projector within a few weeks. “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. “It's just amazing – like nothing I've ever seen before! With the Barco projector, we'll be able to continue for another 50 years, not only as a movie exhibitor, but as a total entertainment provider” continued Zednik. Spud plans to offer alternative content packages to customers, including wedding receptions, non-profit, club and community functions, and even live simulcast sports events and concerts.
The exhibitor launched its digital premiere with a double feature on Friday, July 9th, showing Despicable Me and Robin Hood. Attracting hundreds of moviegoers from around the county, Spud enjoyed its largest crowd of the season, breaking records for its Monday night “$15 per car” promotion. “The image quality was picture perfect, and it was so easy to use – no technical problems at all. The Barco has made my life a million times easier,” commented Zednik.
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.” In business for more than 20 years, Bockert has installed hundreds of digital projectors throughout the Midwest in traditional theatres, and looks forward to additional business in the drive-in market based on the success of Spud's deployment.
The Barco projector utilizes Texas Instruments' DLP Cinema® technology, which produces higher contrast video, deeper black levels and reduced pixelation in a compact package. The projector is able to utilize standard lenses with no modifications to the electronics or housing, and project a crystal clear, precise image from a long distance.
“We're honored to work with Spud Drive In to pioneer the first true digital cinema drive-in theatre. This opportunity demonstrates the power and versatility of Barco's products. We applaud Spud's entrepreneurial spirit and desire to extend their entertainment options with alternative content, which will showcase the Barco projector's features and delight patrons for years to come,” said Todd Hoddick, VP Digital Cinema North America.