Last summer, the fate of the 88 Drive-In — one of the last drive-ins left in the state — looked uncertain. The small operation in Commerce City was trying to make the expensive and inevitable transition to digital projection, as 35mm film was becoming extinct. On top of that, owner Susan Kochevar — whose family has been running the drive-in since 1976 — was facing pushback from the city over traffic congestion on the roads leading to her spot. But now the 88 is back for another summer of late-night movie screenings; the 2015 season will kick off tonight with an 8 p.m. showing of Home, a 10 p.m showing of Furious 7 and a 12:30 a.m. showing of The Longest Ride.
"We just scrimped and saved and scraped enough together to get a digital projector and install it, and now we're just working on getting open for the season," says Kochevar. Even though the transition to the new digital system cost quite a bit, the owner says prices at the theater are still the same — just $8 per person for all three films each night, with children under twelve free.
Traffic could still be an issue, though: On movie nights last summer, cars lined up along Rosemary Street waiting to get into the 88's lot. On Friday and Saturday nights, those lines sometimes backed up onto 88th Avenue. Kochevar fought a bitter battle with Commerce City over the issue, sending petitions with 20,000 signatures and multiple e-mails to city officials. And they responded. "The city sat down with us and admitted that they couldn't fight me personally for other people's driving infractions, and then they also said they couldn't pull my business license," says Kochevar. "If it weren't for my customers, I don't know where we would be."
But thanks to those customers, the 88 Drive-In is now gearing up for another season. If you want to be at tonight's kick-off, get there early — cars start lining up long before sundown to get a prime spot. For more information, visit the 88 Drive-In's website.
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