We're going to be as kind about this as possible: Drive-Ins aren't dying off wholesale, but it's not looking good, either.
At one point, there were 4,000 drive-in theaters across the country, according to DriveInTheater.com. Rising real estate values and shrinking audiences have since whittled that to just 368 last year, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.Even worse, the Los Angeles Times reports that 90% of those drive-ins haven't converted to digital projectors and may not have the capital to spend the $70,000 per screen for each devices. As a result, Time? found that numerous drive-ins have turned to fundraising site Kickstarter, Facebook (FB) and their own sites to solicit donations for projectors and potentially save their businesses. The remaining American drive-ins have survived by getting creative. Tinny or nonfunctional window speakers have been replaced by radio signals. The M-F Drive-In in Milton-Freewater, Ore., still charges by the carload, while the Warwick Drive-In in Warwick, N.Y., just north of New Jersey offers free Wi-Fi. They'll appreciate your business this summer, but may need a donation if you want to visit again in 2014.