Harvey and I have never shied away from the fact that we are huge fans of the drive-in. There is something magical about hunkering down in your car with your pillows and blankets – and for many, even dressed in your PJs – to watch a movie on the big screen with hundreds of other people. There is a quaintness and nostalgia to the drive-in that the newer big box theatres just can’t offer.
At their peak in 1958, there were somewhere between 4000 and 5000 drive-in theatres operating in the United States alone. Today, according to Drive-ins.com, there are only 447 operating world-wide and of those, only 53 drive-in theatres are left in Canada. We are lucky to be the home of one of these remaining gems.
Kingston Family Fun World offers three big screens that regularly show double, and sometimes triple features of summer blockbusters from early April to early fall, and they do this at half the cost of going to the big box theatres to see one film. Sadly, drive-in theatres everywhere are being faced with the possibility of closing down unless they convert to a digital projection format, and Kingston Family Fun World is no exception.
This change in projection format is made necessary because distributors will no longer offer 35mm films beginning next spring. As a result, Kingston Family Fun World has launched a campaign called Go Digital or Go Dark. Like with many campaigns found on sites such as Indiegogo, GoFundMe and Kickstarter, community members are asked to make a donation of their choice with the benefit of rewards as a thank you. In this case, the various levels offer promises of movie passes, snacks or getting your name on the screen all the way up to having free rein of the park for two hours followed by a private screening. The park also offers a go kart track, mini-putt, a batting cage and laser tag – all of which are also included in some of the incentive packages.
In order to convert all three screens, Kingston Family Fun World would need to shell out $250,000. They have decided to set a goal of raising $80,000 to aid in the $110,000 cost of converting the main screen. There is no mention of whether or not they hope to eventually convert the other two or if they will let them go dark.
As always, it’s difficult to fundraise in a small community where many different organizations are looking for help. Hopefully there are enough of us who care enough about film and its history to help see this theatre stay alive. If you haven’t been, I strongly encourage you to do so. If you have, I probably don’t need to prod you too much to make a donation because you know what a great asset Kingston Family Fun World is to Kingston summers. Any amount helps, go have a look at the options and help keep this Kingston treasure alive.
Thanks to the Kingston Family Fun World website for today’s photo.