Drive-In gets second chance for digital projector

September 18, 2013


Brazos Drive-In owner Jennifer Miller said she cried a few tears when she learned the Brazos was not one of five outdoor theaters that won free digital projectors.

She was hoping the Brazos would be among the winners in the nationwide contest that would prevent the iconic Granbury screen from going black forever after 61 years in business.

But on Sunday, not long after the initial winners were revealed, contest sponsor Honda announced that it was extending the voting period until Saturday, Sept. 21. Four more drive-ins will receive the equipment that could save them from extinction in the digital age. Hollywood distributors eventually will no longer offer movies to theaters in the traditional film format, switching exclusively to the digital format, For now, at least, film copies are still being produced.

The winners of the digital projection equipment is based on which drive-ins receive the most votes. Go online ( to vote. Anyone can vote once per day, per IP address.

“Everyone’s excited. It gives us a second chance,” Miller said Monday. “Everybody loves a second chance.”

Miller said she knows the owners of the Graham Drive-In, which was one of the first five winners. Before she knew the voting was being extended, Miller said she was sad because she felt that her drive-in’s proximity to Graham would work against it in the voting.

“I cried when Graham won because the chances of two theaters in Texas winning was slim,” Miller said. “I was thinking they were going to spread it out. Then I said I was happy for them.”

The other four winning drive-ins are in Maine, Michigan, Illinois and Oregon.

Miller said she felt empty and numb inside at the moment when she found out the Brazos hadn’t won.

“It was like, well, ‘What am I going to do now?’” she said. “I just felt it was over.”

She said she has known the Graham Drive-In owner for several years.

“I’m very happy Graham won, and they will be able to continue on,” Miller said, noting that they have been supportive of each other in the contest – as part of the shrinking pool of independent drive-in theater owners.

On Tuesday evening, Rick Bowser of Bowser Electric lent his talents to do a promotional stunt at the Brazos. He climbed the internal ladder to the top of the screen and waived a hat to draw as much attention as possible to himself – and the theater’s effort to drum up online votes.

But Miller said that she learned during conversations with the Graham theater owner that her approach needed to change.

The Graham drive-in had a YouTube, Facebook and Twitter presence, which actually brought in votes from other countries, such as Japan, Miller said.

“Electronically is the way to get it done, but local support and word of mouth is a big part of it,” Miller said, noting that she has similar plans in the works to get the message out this week.

Miller also said the Graham owner told her he’s throwing his support behind the Brazos Drive-In.

One of Miller’s employees, a senior at Granbury High School, increased awareness of the online voting contest among his schoolmates when he used the project as part of his humanitarian class, Miller said.

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