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Letters to the Editor October 5, 2017

Published on: October 5, 2017

South County: Do you really want your drive-in theatre?

I ask this question because starting in January, when the weather was still comfortable at night, attendance went from long lines on Friday and Saturday to a low of five cars to a high of 27 cars and week nights from zero cars to a high of 11 cars on any given night for the last nine months.

For the last 40 years, since I retired from being involved in the operation of 110 theaters in Florida and Georgia, I have kept your drive-in open through good years and not-so-good years, but I have never seen anything like the way this drive-in has gone from a good 2016, to a loss of $132,000 in nine months this year.

Karen and I have tried to play only family-oriented movies. We, along with many of you, raised the money to go digital. This year we cashed in the balance of my retirement from previous employment and loaned it to the theatre, which at the rate the theatre is losing attendance it will keep the drive-in open, hopefully, until January.

We have been told by many of you that we need to play more adult-themed movies. We are going to try a balance of family movies and more adult-themed movies. We are also going to have a daytime, Saturday Market (a flea market, if you will) to try to bring in more revenue. This will start in October.

All this being said, I wish someone could explain to us, why the theatre was instantly deserted in January. What could possibly cause hundreds of you all to stop coming at the same time and continue through nine months?

We are not asking for fundraisers, just enough attendance to break even. The fate of your drive-in is in your hands, as I am out of money to pay the bills come January. We have not raised the price of tickets in five years. We have added new food items to the snack bar, which, incidentally, has never failed a health inspection in 65-plus years. We try to keep our prices at the snack bar as reasonable as possible.

In total transparency as to where the theatre’s revenue goes, I have taken no compensation other than living on the property since 2002.

Tonight, as I sit here and write this letter, for the 17th night since January, we have only one car.

Karen and Ted Freiwald