Mitchell’s Starlite Drive-In to Go Dark in September
One of the state’s last remaining drive-in movie theater’s will be closing it’s ‘doors’ at the end of the summer and it’s not because business is bad. According to KDLT, the Starlite Drive-In north of Mitchell is closing because it can’t keep up with the cost of technology.
Jeff Logan, owner of the Starlite, bought it from the original owners in 1976. It originally opened in 1949. The drive-in was destroyed by a tornado in the late 80′s. It went ‘dark’ for a period of time when HBO and video cassette recorders became popular. It was restored and re-opened in 1993.
Over the years theaters used 35 millimeter film to show movies, but now more movie companies are moving to digital formats. Instead of huge reals of film, theater owners can simply download the film. Unfortunately a digital projector can cost upwards of $70,000 – a cost Logan can’t justify.
“Most are able to make it, or have the volume, unfortunately for drive inns especially in the northern part of the country and in rural areas without a big population base, just like us, it a very, very tough decision and tough math to try to make it work out,” Logan told KDLT.
The Starlite will remain open through mid-September before fading to black for the final time.
The oldest remaining drive-in is the Gregory County Hilltop Drive-in which opened in 1946. After the Starlite closes there will only be 5 remaining drive-ins in the state.