Probably one of my favourite hobbies is running my drive-in movie theatre. The Dacotah Drive-In, located in Dacotah, Manitoba, 15 minutes past the shuttered Odeon Drive-In, runs classic films with Dolby Digital surround sound broadcasted to your car’s FM stereo. We also have a full concession stand with onion rings, curly fires, and hot buttered popcorn. Last night, we ran remastered versions of Back To The Future (1985) and Total Recall (1990).
So, how did this all begin? Well, I worked my way up to Assistant Manager at the Odeon by the time I was 18, a place I had grown up with and will always remember fondly. When they shut it down permanently, I felt like I lost a friend. So, one night over a couple of drinks with a friend, I decided I was going to buy a boardroom projector and a home transmitter (with a 150-ft. radius) and roll my own drive-in on the barn of my parent’s hobby ranch.
Our first night, May 9, 2008, we had a crowd of 20 show up to enjoy Mars Attacks (1998) and Eight Legged Freaks (2002). The transmitter had shown up from Canada Post only 4 hours before showtime, which was definitely nerve racking. From the start, I’ve run classic drive-in intermission shorts between the two features, including the dancing hot dog and unforgettable jingle Let’s All Go To The Lobby.
My parents sold the ranch in 2009 and without a home for the theatre, I figured after almost a season and a half, we were closed for good, too. Enter my sister’s boyfriend Rauri, who lived across the street and offered his barn for the movie nights. We’re business partners, in a way. Now we innovate, year after year, adding things such as digital sound and a full concession stand.
We also solved the weatherproofing problem by ditching our rickety open-face particle board projection booth and rebuilding it in a cheap Rubbermaid container. This weekend, we even added auto-start showtimes to the booth so I can worry more about the concession stand and atmosphere.
We’ve tried really hard to create a nostalgic atmosphere and we’ve developed a very loyal following. I invite everyone to come check it out. It doesn’t cost anything, but we do accept donations to help offset the cost of running it. Our final night of this season is a triple bill on October 20 starting at 7:30pm with Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). Give me a shout for details!