Local owner’s goal: help save drive-ins
Posted: January 31, 2013
The Winchester Star
STEPHENS CITY — “Jeopardy!” fans may want to brush up on their drive-in theater trivia.
Thanks to Jim Kopp — operator of the Family Drive-In on Valley Pike (U.S. 11), south of Stephens City — “Jeopardy!” plans to showcase a drive-in category.
The episode is likely to air some time around June 6 — which marks the 80th anniversary of the first American drive-in opening in Camden, N.J., said Kopp, who is chairing the anniversary task force for the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association.
Kopp isn’t chummy with Alex Trebek, the show’s host, and it wasn’t easy getting the drive-in category on the program, but he succeeded through persistence.
He previously tried to get the category on for the 75th anniversary, but didn’t bring the idea to producers until after the June episodes had been taped.
He learned his lesson.
“I wrote to them a lot earlier this year,” he said.
After getting the green light, he spent a week gathering photos and data so that the show’s personnel could develop questions.
Kopp hopes the appearance of drive-ins on “Jeopardy!” — and hopefully elsewhere, as he is still seeking publicity opportunities — helps people recognize the anniversary, while also bringing attention to their struggles to stay afloat as movie studios transition from 35mm film distribution to digital.
The Family Drive-In is no exception. It will be holding an antique car show and other events the weekend of June 7-9, but like many of the 365 American drive-ins, it has been struggling to scrounge up the money for digital equipment.
Since July, Kopp has been trying to raise $140,000 to purchase and install the technology. He expects studios to start phasing out 35mm film in the fall.
The drive-in has been receiving donations and selling T-shirts, and Kopp is now asking local businesses to sponsor events, movies and special character appearances and offering advertising on the drive-in grounds or screen.
“That’s where we’re hoping to raise a lot of the money,” he said, referring to the sponsorships and advertising.
Kopp said he has more than $16,000 for the transition to digital.
Businesses interested in Family Drive-In advertising or sponsorships can contact Kopp by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations for the drive-in’s transition to digital can be made at thefamilydriveintheatre.com/id75.html.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at email@example.com