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Minnesota drive-ins struggle in evolving movie market

July 15, 2018
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In a June 29, 2018 photo, Dave Quincer, owner of the Starlite Drive-In Theater, walks around outside the ticket booth during the first movie in the double feature at the Starlite Drive-In Theater in Litchfield, Minn. (Lacey Young/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

LITCHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — Hollywood’s demands and the changing economics of the film industry are making it tough for the owners of Minnesota’s remaining drive-in movie theaters to make ends meet.

There were nearly 80 drive-in theaters across the state in the 1950s, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. Now there are just six in the cities Elko, Long Prairie, Warren, Lake Elmo, Litchfield and Luverne.

Dave Quincer is among the state’s drive-in owners questioning the future of his business. The 53-year-old said he’s been pouring money into his drive-in, Starlite, since he bought it a few years ago.

Quincer’s family owned the Prairie Drive-in in Perham, which closed in 1987. Their Wadena drive-in also shuttered in 1989 after the business became too much for Quincer’s dad.

“Years ago, my dad had issues too because Friday nights were just a big beer party and he knew he was going to have trouble,” Quincer said. “So, my dad was popping Tums and he had a nervous stomach.”

Quincer, a fourth generation drive-in theater owner, said he thinks he can get his theater through this season, but will require a lot of money for next year. He said it’s been a good year for the movies he’s shown this season, but that April rains prevented him from opening the drive-in until late spring.

“There’s so many aspects of this business I can’t control. People complain about mosquitoes,” he said. “I’m surrounded by farm fields that are full of drainage ditches and water with all this rain.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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