The McHenry Outdoor Theater's Drive to Stay Alive
This historic Drive-In Theater must convert its 35mm projection equipment to digital in order to survive. Other maintenance and updating is also needed.
1 Team Member
My name is Scott Dehn and I own Golden Age Cinemas, LLC which operates the McHenry Outdoor Theater. Some of my fondest memories as a child are of attending The McHenry Outdoor Theater with my parents, my sister and my grandmother. As a six year-old, I could hardly comprehend the concept of watching movies on such a huge screen outside under the stars. I recall watching "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" while sitting on my grandmothers lap in the back of our family's station wagon. I remember explaining to her what had happened in the last Indiana Jones adventure. I remember the smell of the blanket she cuddled me up in. I remember loving the dancing food items on the intermission reel. Most of all, I remember feeling so safe and loved amongst my family in this unique setting. It was moments like this that remain with me to this day. I fell in love with movies and this particular theater from that day on.
Today, I find myself blessed to be in a position to help provide memories like those I experienced as a child to a whole new generation of families. I get to see the looks of awe and excitement on the children's faces as they arrive at the theater to see their favorite cartoon character or superhero on the big screen. I know, however, that as the years go on it will be the time and moments spent here with their family and friends that they will cherish the most.
The McHenry Outdoor Theater has been providing memories for families for the better part of 75 years. We are entering into a critical time for the continued survival of this theater. Movie studios are beginning to stop production of 35mm film prints and releasing their features digitally. The McHenry Outdoor Theater MUST convert its 35mm projection equipment to digital. The projection booth will be in need of a massive overhaul to accomodate such an upgrade. Without this conversion, The McHenry Outdoor Theater will not be able to operate much longer. There are less than 400 drive-in theaters left in this country. There will be fewer and fewer left due to this neccesary transition. As a community, we have the opportunity to stand up and make a difference. By supporting this campaign, not only can we save this beloved landmark, but we can make it even better!
What will a digital conversion mean to you as a patron? Well, digital projectors provide a brighter, more vibrant image than anything that has ever been shown on our screen before. It is so bright that we will be able to start our movies earlier than normal. The sound will be digital as well which means you will experience a clear, crisp sound over your car stereo. Most importantly, it will be easier for us to book the movies you want to see. Currently, due to the dwindling amount of 35mm films being produced, we cannot always get the features we try for. By going digital, that will no longer be a problem.
Drive-In movie-going is a big part of Americana. It harkens to a simpler and more innocent era. There are few places in this world that provide that anymore. Saving this theater is more than being able to continue to watch movies. It is about saving part of our community and country's identity and past. Those are things worth fighting for.
I hope that you can help me by contributing to this campaign. If you cannot, please at least share this with as many people as you can. We need as much support as we can get. The more money we raise, the more we will be able to accomplish at this theater in terms of upgrades and beautification. We also are accepting donations in our concession stand throughout the summer and fall if you are more comfortable contributing in that capacity.
Thank you for supporting us in whichever way you can. I will continue to do everything in my power to save this theater. I hope that you will join me!
-Scott M. Dehn