Hathaway's Drive-In meets conversion fund-raising goal


HOOSICK, N.Y. -- The area's only drive-in movie theater will remain open, having met its $80,000 fundraising goal to purchase a digital projector and survive the movie industry's shift away from 35 mm film.

Duane Greenawalt, owner of Hathaway's Drive-In on Route 22, said Friday that two years of fundraising efforts were given a final boost by Lynn Caponera, of In the Night Kitchen at Scotch Hill Farm in Cambridge.

Scotch Hill Farm was bought in the 1990s by Maurice Sendak, who authored the famous children's' book, "Where the Wild Things Are." He and Caponera leased parts of the 150-acre property to farmers, then began growing vegetables of their own to donate to food shelves.

In exchange for the donation, the amount of which is being kept confidential, Hathaway's will work to raise awareness about hunger and serve as a drop-off point for donated food. It may do more, but the details have to be worked out, said Greenawalt.

"It's safe to say, without her it wouldn't have happened," he said of Caponera.

Weather permitting, Hathaway's should be open April 25.

Greenawalt said he has been involved in food shelf work for a number of years now, but this was not known to Caponera when she approached him. "Really it's a godsend," he said. "It's a cause that I believe in."

Hathaway's, which dates to 1948, was purchased by Greenawalt in 2009. He is the theater's fourth owner. When he bought it, there were mutterings in the industry about movie studios doing away with 35 mm film and only releasing movies in digital formats. By then all movies were being filmed digitally, Greenawalt said, but studios would make some film copies and distribute them to theaters.

Each movie season, it became harder and harder to get movies in 35 mm and some theaters were getting them late or not at all.

"That happened last year," Greenawalt said. "There were several titles we wanted and just couldn't get."

He said when Universal Studios announced that "Anchorman 2" would be the last movie it created 35 mm copies of, that was the death knell for the format. He expects other studious will quickly follow suit and getting 35 mm film this season would have been unlikely, as would opening the theater.

Hathaway's began its fundraising efforts in 2012 hoping to open in 2013, but sales of T-shirts and speakers were not raising the $80,000 fast enough. Many other fundraising efforts were conducted, and the level of support Hathaway's received was substantial.

"We owe much gratitude to our loyal patrons, friends, family, and well wishers from across the country," Greenawalt wrote in a release. "They purchased field speakers, T-shirts, season passes, raffle tickets, film earrings and attended a fall music concert -- all to benefit our cause. And just last weekend, ‘A Night at the Brewvies' event at the Hoosick Falls Armory, which was collaboration between Brown's Brewing Company, HAYC3, and Hathaway's, was a tremendous success."

He said he decided to forego using the Kickstarter website to raise money because he wanted to make sure people got something in return for their donations.

Caponera said Friday she is a fan of Hathaway's, and saw an opportunity to save it as well as continue Sendak's work. "I love the drive-in," she said. "It's a wonderful thing and I felt it would be good for the community."

The original fundraising goal was $70,000 Greenawalt said, but the projection booth must also be renovated and weather-proofed. He is also not sure what old equipment can be salvaged.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.


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