65-Year-Old Brownsville Drive-In Saved By Crowdfunding

The theater is the 10th and final recipient of Honda’s Project Drive-In campaign funds.


Blame Superman. Blame Iron Man. Blame the 3D reboot market in general.

The advent of digital movie projection has been big trouble for the nation's drive-ins. Many of these charming, al fresco cinemas struggled to find the funds needed to upgrade their equipment for the new format, which requires a brand-new, $80,000 computerized projector to replace the old film-reel projectors. A good number of such theaters closed.

Pittsburgh, however, remains a haven for drive-in aficionados; Dependable Drive-In made the transition, as did Twin Hi-Way. Things looked rough for North Vandergrift's single-screen Riverside Drive-In, but they're up and running. And now, thanks to the miracle of social media and the support of a Japanese car company, yet another local gem has been saved.

Last year, Honda launched Project Drive-In, promising to donate projectors to the five drive-ins that received the most votes. Brownsville Drive-In Theater, open since 1949 in tiny Grindstone, Pa., just missed that first cut. Fortunately, Honda kept going, mounting a campaign to raise funds to help more theaters. As the 10th-overall vote getter nationwide, Brownsville Drive-In qualified for a cut of the funds Honda raised through a 2013 Indiegogo campaign. They still need to raise a bit more (you can donate here), but it looks like the lights will stay on at this southwestern PA treasure.


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Categories: The 412