Tyler drive-in theater facing closure

Published: Jul. 31, 2013 at 2:13 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2013 at 2:22 AM CDT
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Time is running out for Tyler's own drive-in theater.

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Tonight they are asking for your help as the deadline quickly approaches for the switch to digital.

In just a few weeks the Skyvue Theater, and drive-ins across the country, will stop receiving film.

Movie screens all across the country are going dark.

"It's scary," Tracey Phillips, an owner of The SkyVue Drive-in Theater, said.

In 2011 major motion pictures announced that once half of American theaters switched to digital they would cut the production of film, leaving many of America's favorite theaters scrambling to find the funds to adopt digital equipment.

"My parent's watched movies on that same machine when they were in high school at John Tyler in 1974. And thirty years later, I own that same machine," Robert Phillips, an owner of SkyVue Drive-in Theater, said.

The Phillips opened this theater in 2006.

"My husband's the guy in the ticket booth, my son does the projection, Tracey does the cash register, and I'm back in the kitchen making pizza," Rhonda Phillips, an owner of The SkyVue Drive-in Theater, said.

They say the business has brought their family together, along with many others.

"I mean this is a good place to come out with your kids, or couples, or just have a good time by yourself, I mean everybody's friendly around here," Dustin Torres, a frequent customer of the theater, said.

Skyvue is offering future advertising space and long term passes to earn the remaining $64,000 dollars needed to purchase digital equipment.

A five foot tall film player will be replaced by a server about the size of a small box. And all of the bulky machinery will be gone, too. The movies will come through on a little external hard drive and they'll just plug right in. And although this makes things easier, according to the Phillips, the movies have lost some of their art form.

"The nostalgia and the art form is just slipping away," Robert said.

But the Phillips refuse to let technology mute their movies. New sounds systems are on their way that are compatible with digital systems.

"It's a part of American history," Tracey said.

"Well I'm not giving up. Some way, I will find a way to keep going," Robert said.

Movie companies are giving theaters until the end of the year to make the switch, but the Phillips say if they haven't transitioned by the end of August, film will begin to stop coming in the mail.

For more on how you can purchase those long term tickets and help keep the big screen going here in Tyler, click on the big red box.

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