Owners start fundraiser to save the Auto Vue Drive In | Business
This Spring, the owners of the Auto-Vue Drive In movie in Colville announced that they would be closing for good at the end of the summer. But now, after a rally cry from the community, the owners have started a fundraising campaign in hopes of saving the theater that has been a Stevens County landmark since 1953.
“I got so many requests,” explains owner Steve Wisner. He added that some people even got angry with him for not doing more to save the nostalgic drive in. So, after receiving a suggestion to use the website GoFundMe.com, Wisner decided to try his hand at raising the money.
Wisner set up the web based fundraiser at 11pm on Sunday night. As of Tuesday morning over $2,000 had been donated by 49 people. The fundraiser had also been shared over 2,000 times on Facebook.
“If this can work out it makes everybody happy,” says Wisner. But, the money that has been quickly raised only makes a dent in what is needed to rescue the Auto-Vue.
The movie industry will no longer be releasing 35mm films at the end of 2013, and so a new digital projector is a must. However, the cost for a new projector is deadly for small, family operations like the Auto-Vue. Wisner received the price tag for the digital projector and it will cost them $91,291.
That's just for the projector and all of it's components. The other issue is the screen, which has been declared structurally compromised. Even if they are able to raise the money for the projector a new screen is a must to keep the drive in alive. The first bid to rebuild it came in around $94,000. However, Wisner is looking in to other, less expensive options. He is also looking in donations of material and labor.
That brings the current fundraising goal to $186,000, which is a steep mountain to climb. Wisner is hoping that they will be able to cut the estimated price of a new screen in half and will adjust the GoFundMe.com goal when they settle on a replacement plan.
The fundraising campaign will go through the end of December. What happens if they don't raise the money? The Auto-Vue will close and the money raised will be donated to a local charity instead. Showing old movies on a new screen isn't an option either, Wisner says it's extremely expensive to make that happen and he would end up losing money in the process.
Wisner also owns the Alpine Theater in Colville, and he was able to purchase a digital projector for that location, but he would like to see the drive in continue on.
“I grew up in drive ins,” says Wisner, his family has owned the Auto-Vue since 1974. He appreciates the timeless movie going experience a drive in provides. “It's never really changed how people are when they come.”
Families crowd in truck beds and set up in the back seat, little ones run around waiting for the giant screen to come to life in the dark, and teenagers still steam up the windows after the sun sets.
“Everybody really enjoys it,” Wisner adds.
If you would like to make a donation to help save Colville's Auto-Vue Drive In, the only remaining drive in movie in the area, you can do so by clicking HERE.