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WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 15, 2012, 08:56 PM

One of the last drive-in theaters in Minnesota is trying to hold out

Warren, MN (WDAY TV) -- This is the last year movie theaters will have access to 35 millimeter film meaning if they want to air new movies, they'll have to go digital. It comes with a hefty price tag, and may force some smaller theaters to close. One of the last drive-in theaters in Minnesota is trying to hold out.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ, WDAY

Warren, MN (WDAY TV) -- This is the last year movie theaters will have access to 35 millimeter film meaning if they want to air new movies, they'll have to go digital. It comes with a hefty price tag, and may force some smaller theaters to close. One of the last drive-in theaters in Minnesota is trying to hold out.

Just outside of Warren, Minnesota is the Sky Vu Drive in. It's been operating for nearly 60 years. Owner Leonard Novak has managed keep the lights on when drive-ins were no longer the trend and went dark.

Leonard Novak / Sky Vu Owner: "The only one between Minneapolis and the Canadian border."

Leonard Novak's family has owned the Drive In for 40 years.

Novak: "It's something we bought years ago as a family investment.

Over time he has made upgrades, like replacing the window speakers with fm radio sound, he even has a website.

Novak: "This will be obsolete with the new digital system."

Now Novak faces his biggest upgrade, 35-millimeter film movies will be replaced by digital chips by the end of the year. It's estimated to cost at least 70 thousand dollars for the new technology.

Novak: "If was to update an indoor theater in a small town, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't consider it. Our business is kind of a unique business.

Novak says being one of only 5 outdoor theaters left in the state.. gives him has a niche, and he's gambling going digital will be a box office hit.

Novak: "We will find that out. We are hoping so."

There are some grants Novak will be applying for to help pay for next year's conversion. But it doesn't seem to be all about the money here. With or without film ... some nostalgia is likely playing a part in Novak's decision in keeping the shows rolling here.

Novak: " Nope, It's going to be going." One way or other, we will finance it our ourselves if we have to."

The Sky Vu will have its earliest ever opening this coming Friday, showing the movie Warhorse.

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