NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Drive-in movie buffs may think they’ve gone through a time warp once they pass through the ticket booth of the Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In on Tuesday nights this summer.
That’s because the theater will screen “Dirty Dancing,” “Back to the Future” and “Ghostbusters,” among others, as part of a “Retro Tuesdays” lineup of double features from the 1970s through the early 1990s through Aug. 27.
Tim Sherman, who owns and operates the longtime drive-in with family members including his mother, Deb Sherman, had been thinking about doing such a program for some time but knew that locating good prints of such films could prove a real challenge.
Then the theater underwent a conversion from film to digital projection this spring that made it all possible.
“Going digital makes access to these movies a lot easier and a lot less expensive,” Tim Sherman said. “Back in the day, you could play an older film if it was still available (as a traditional film print) but you would have no idea what shape it was going to be in when you got it. The print could be scratched or reels could be missing.”
But following the $150,000 conversion to all-digital projection equipment, the theater has its pick of thousands of movies, all available on digital copies.
“Now with digital copies, it’s a case of taking original masters (studio-held prints) and converting them to digital copies,” Sherman said.
The digital copies are then downloaded onto projectors’ hard drives.
A few titles in this summer’s inaugural “Retro Tuesdays” lineup will be screened via Blu-ray as they have not yet been converted digitally.
The Shermans figured they had a good idea on their hands when they floated the “Retro” night idea via surveys of patrons, as well as a Facebook page posting that received more than 600 favorable comments.
The opening “Retro Tuesday” lineup last week featured “Airplane” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Unfortunately, the two movies were shown the same night as horrendous thunderstorms dumped water on the area for several hours.
“The turnout was really bad due to the weather, but we still showed the movies,’ Tim said. “We had two power outages, but with the digital copies, we were able to pick the movies back up right where we left off.”
The theater tried to theme the weekly double features such as a “ladies night” lineup of “Footloose” and “Dirty Dancing” July 9, or a “baseball night” Aug. 6 with “Major League” and “A League of Their Own.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146