Hathaway’s Drive-In will reopen next weekend following a conversion to digital projection. (Banner File)
Hathaway’s Drive-In will reopen next weekend following a conversion to digital projection. (Banner File)

Editor's Note -- The major contribution for Hathaway's digital conversion did not come from the Maurice Sendak Foundation. It was a personal donation by Sendak's friend and caretaker, Lynn Caponera.

NORTH HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Only a month behind schedule, Hathaway's Drive-In movie theatre prepares for opening weekend after converting to digital projection and sound. Hathaway's will open Friday, May 16, at 7 p.m. for a weekend of double feature screenings.

Drive-in owner, Duane Greenawalt, said weather wasn't his deterrent from opening in April, rather his "extensive" digital conversion. "I am glad I did it. The drive-ins in the area have not necessarily done well in the last few weeks due to (poor) weather."

Greenawalt doesn't believe he's been set too far back, rather that he has taken a few steps forward. At the end of last year, he decided he would close the theatre until he raised the money to convert to digital technologies. Greenawalt said movies on 35 millimeter film aren't necessarily worse than digital screenings, but that many studios don't produce film anymore. The number of movies he had available to him became more limited over the past several years.

"We raised the money we needed to convert, so we did it," Greenawalt said. "We didn't want to get caught up in not getting a film."

Since the new computer and digital projector require a more stable environment, the projection booth had to be completely refurbished. Hathaway's now has a new air-tight, dark and temperature-controlled projection room.

Hathaway's will have its bathrooms remodeled over the next month as well, but they will still be open during showtimes.

To raise the money for the new digital system and remodel, Greenawalt sold the theatre's speakers, held a concert and raffles. The Hoosick Armory Youth Center and Community Coalition also helped Greenawalt raise money with a community fundraiser. The most significant contribution came in the form of a personal donation from Lynn Caponera, Maurice Sendak's personal assistant, friend and caretaker. She made the donation because she believed it was something Sendak, the creator of "Where the Wild Things Are," would have contributed to. Caponera donated what was needed under the stipulation that Hathaway's be made a collection point for non-perishable food items.

"We thought the loan was a good fit," Greenawalt said. "(The foundation) approached us and it was a godsend. I don't think I would have been open until I raised the money We are happy we're able to stay in business. It is a testament to this theatre's longevity."

Hathaway's will be starting its 66th continuous year in business as the oldest and longest-running drive-in theatre in New York. Greenawalt is the drive-in's fourth owner since 1948.

Hathaway's will run double features Friday through Sunday until schools let out in June. The box office and snack bar will open every night at 7 p.m. until Labor Day when it returns to its weekend double features only. Opening night on May 16 with feature Godzilla and the Amazing Spiderman 2. For more information on prices and showings, visit http://hathawaysdrive-in.com/.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg