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DailyTidings.com
  • End of an era

    Arizona's Apache Drive-in theater is set to close, following national trend
  • GLOBE, Ariz. — Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night during the summertime, Bobby Hollis' Apache Drive-in is one of the main attractions in town.
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  • GLOBE, Ariz. — Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night during the summertime, Bobby Hollis' Apache Drive-in is one of the main attractions in town.
    Ten dollars buys admission for an entire carload — as many moviegoers as will fit. Most people show up early to get the best spots and line up at the concession stand for the Hollis family's famous red chile burritos.
    Then, as the sun sinks behind the Pinal Mountains, friends, family and neighbors settle in for a double feature under the stars.
    "This drive-in is personal," Hollis said. "We know pretty much everyone who comes here."
    But the Apache, said by Hollis and others to be Arizona's last single-screen drive-in, is preparing to show its final movie and fade into memory like so many other drive-ins across rural America. Hollis plans to close the theater later this month in large part because he can't afford the $130,000 it would take to convert to digital projection.
    "Nobody is gonna loan me the money to convert to digital," Hollis said. "Trust me, I've looked."
    The 35 mm films that the Apache's 40-year-old projector runs are getting harder and harder to come by. And dealing with film is time-intensive: Hollis and his employees have to cut and tape sections together before loading the huge reels.
    "The drive-in is a break-even proposition," Hollis said.
    There is a glimmer of hope, though. To help save drive-ins from closing, Honda Motor Co. is awarding five digital projectors to theaters based on online voting by the public. The Apache Drive-in is one of many theaters in the running.
    Hollis said he'd keep the Apache open, at least for now, if he wins a projector.
    But even if he could afford to convert to digital, Hollis said the theater's profitability wouldn't improve. The 8-acre lot's value for other uses has grown as available housing in Globe has become increasingly scarce.
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