Santa Barbara Drive-In Goes Digital

The drive-in movie theater, once thought to be headed the way of the silent movie, is staging a huge comeback thanks to modern technology and the nostalgia of a first-run double-feature at an affordable price.

With vast improvements in sound quality already in place, West Wind Drive-In Theatres is taking the experience to the next level with the installation of the West Coast’s first all-digital Drive-In at its theater in Santa Barbara, California.

“Digital cinema will revolutionize the drive-in experience by providing a quantum leap forward in the quality of the picture. The difference will be spectacular,” said Nancy Crane, District Manager for West Wind. “It will also allow us to present content such as concerts, sports events and other non-traditional features.”

West Wind’s investment in digital technology is in response to a 43 percent increase in its drive-in business during the past four years. Business at conventional theaters has been roughly flat during the same period.

West Wind, the nation’s largest operator of drive-in theaters, has reopened two drive-in theatres – one in Concord, CA and another in Santa Barbara, CA — in the last five years due to its success at its six other locations in California, Arizona and Nevada.

“Movie-goers are rediscovering the comfort, value and fun of these theaters,” Crane said. “With our digital projector, our customers can still enjoy the nostalgic experience of a drive-in movie but with a crystal clear, absolutely perfect picture on a screen that dwarfs those at indoor theatres,”

Despite the considerable investment West Wind is making in digital cinema, general admission to first-run, double features at its California theatres remains only $7.25, while kids five to 11 are $1, and kids four and under are free. Recently shown movies at its drive-in include Man 3, Oblivion and 42.

Other technological advances have added to the drive-in experience. For instance, the audio now comes through an FM signal beamed to your car. This means that movie-goers can listen to the movie via your car stereo, portable radio or FM enabled mp3 player. Long gone are the days of speakers mounted to poles.

The digital projector was installed on March 8 with Disney’s Oz – The Great and Powerful and Jack The Giant Slayer. “The difference is spectacular and unlike any other movie experience,” Crane said.

About West Wind Drive-Ins and Public Markets

West Wind is the largest owner/operator of drive-in movie theaters and public markets in the country, with four locations in California, two in Nevada and one in Arizona. West Wind Santa Barbara is located at 907 S. Kellogg, Goleta, CA. The movie and showtime phone is: 805-964-9050. All West Wind Drive-In locations feature first-run double features at an exceptional value. More information can be found here.

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