The Harvest Moon Drive-in Theatre is 58 years old. (Photo Courtesy Harvest Moon Drive-in Theatre)
By Paul Morello
GIBSON CITY - The Harvest Moon Drive in Movie Theatre is asking Central Illinois residents to help save an American tradition.
Sep. 28-30 is the drive-in's last official weekend of the 2012 season, and manager Ben Harroun isn't sure the iconic theater will reopen next year.
Harvest Moon is facing a $120,000 project to buy the equipment required to play films in an all-digital format. Movie studios will stop distributing films in 35 millimeter format by the end of 2012.
"Unfortunately with this new equipment, it's not sitting in someone's warehouse ready to go. It's all custom-made for the specific application it goes to. The way our theater's set up, we can't even reuse our equipment booths," Harroun said.
A Kickstarter campaign raised $48,000, but that's an all-or-nothing service, and the goal was $120,000.
Harroun said the theater is taking PayPal donations and has raised $17,600 so far, but he imminently needs to start the process of ordering the new projector.
"If we can get the support of the full $48,000 that we had with the Kickstarter, plus what we've raised already, we're halfway to our goal of being able to get the equipment and we can start the process of getting one camera, so we can at least reopen with one screen next year," he said.
Harround said traditional movie theaters have received financial assistance to make the all-digital transition, but drive-ins do not qualify.
The Harvest Moon is 58 years old, and has been owned and managed by Ben and his father Michael and brother William since 1989.
Paul Morello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.