Added attraction: Morden saves its drive-in

Fundraising blitz allows purchase of $85,000 digital projector


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The triple feature is back in Morden.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/06/2016 (2306 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The triple feature is back in Morden.

The Stardust Drive-In reopened on the May long weekend after being rescued by a fundraising drive.

“We can’t say thank you enough,” said Marlene Nelson, a member of one of three families who have co-owned the Stardust since 2002.

People in the community raised about $50,000, including $32,000 from an online Kickstarter campaign.

The drive-in was threatened with closure because movie studios have gotten out of 35 millimetre film and converted to digital format. Owners of small, seasonal drive-in theatres, which are more a labour of love in rural communities, couldn’t justify the $85,000 cost of a digital projector.

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform used to help fund creative projects.

The Stardust’s Kickstarter campaign required a target of $30,000 but it became stalled at $25,000 with days to go. Kickstarter campaigns are for a set time limit, in this case 30 days. If a campaign doesn’t reach its target, the pledges are all returned.

“It looked completely out of reach,” said Nelson.

Then a wave of donations poured in, surpassing even the target. “It was a nailbiter,” she said.

Pledges are at set amounts, with the lowest $5 and up to $1,000. The Stardust had 419 backers, ranging from $5 to $500. People pledging could also receive gifts from T-shirts and glow-in-the-dark bracelets, to a season’s pass. Pledges came from as far away as Switzerland, and the United States. The campaign ran last August.

Traditional fundraising in the Morden area also raised an additional $18,000.

“It was really exciting to have that happen. One thing we wanted to know was whether people wanted it here,” said Nelson, who owns it with brothers Larry and Ken Freund, and all of their respective families.

MELISSA TAIT / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES A family watches the show at Stardust Drive-In in Morden.

The families are paying the rest of the projector’s cost. The new projector also has more lumens, a measure of brightness, which allows the theatre to start movies a half hour earlier, instead of waiting until it’s completely dark.

Manitoba still has three drive-ins, including the Big Island Drive-In in Flin Flon. It also recently purchased a digital projector with help from a mining company. The Shamrock Drive-In has purchased a used digital projector. It plans to reopen once its screen is fixed. It was damaged by wind.

About 250 people turned out for the Stardust’s May Long Weekend triple-feature, which included the new Jungle Book movie.

Some people think drive-ins may be experiencing a revival, with talk in Regina of possibly building a drive-in four-plex, Nelson said.


Updated on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 3:59 PM CDT: Adds video

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