Like a blockbuster that extends its theatrical run in order to reap the profits of sustained ticket sales, Honda has extended the voting period in its Project Drive-In campaign by nearly two weeks. The charitable effort to purchase costly digital film projectors for cash-strapped drive-in movie theaters across the nation already has accumulated nearly 2.25 million online votes for people's favorite outdoor cinemas and nearly $37,000 in contributions.
The polls originally closed Sept. 9 and a quintet of lucky drive-in theaters vying for the valuable prize — digital projectors are said to run roughly $80,000 each — were announced one a day over the course of last week. Now, additional slots have been opened for four more theaters, for which voting closes on Saturday. Honda will announce the new crop of winners Monday.
The first five al-fresco film forums to curry favor with voters were Saco Drive-In in Saco, Maine; Cherry Bowl Drive-In in Honor, Mich.; Graham Drive-In in Graham, Texas; McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry, Ill.; and 99W Drive-In in Newberg, Ore. Those exhibitors made their winning pitches to Project Drive-In via one-minute videos that can be viewed on the campaign's website. Pleas for assistance — some played straight and sincere, and others amusing and outlandish — included a reminder that drive-ins are an affordable family activity for economically challenging times; a touching story of a community working to keep its theater open after the owner became paralyzed and later died; and even a warning that the procurement of a digital projector was needed to prevent a zombie apocalypse.
You can learn more about the campaign, vote to save a drive-in or donate money to the effort by going to Projectdrivein.com. Honda started Project Drive-In to help preserve this piece of nostalgia that occupies a special place in Americans' love affair with cars. In the spring, Hollywood studios announced that they would cease distributing 35 mm prints of their films by year's end, in effect forcing drive-ins — already economically challenged after decades of decline amid cultural shifts — to either make the pricey conversion or roll the end credits of their existence.
As part of the campaign, Honda has been sponsoring a "Pop Up Drive-In Tour" at dealerships across the country, featuring the original "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" and complimentary concessions. The last of the scheduled series will be held Friday at First Team Honda in Chesapeake, Va.