Online votes save Newberg’s drive-in

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Brian Francis, owner of the 99W Drive-In, talks to KOIN 6 News behind-the-scenes Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, at a celebration party for the theater's digital projection system award. (Ellen Hansen/KOIN 6 News)

NEWBERG, Ore. (KOIN) — The 99W Drive-In  movie theater in Newberg — one of only four remaining drive-in theaters in the state of Oregon — was set to shut down by the end of this year.

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99W Drive-In Owner Brian Francis in front of the theater’s drive-up screen Sept. 15, 2013. (Ellen Hansen/KOIN 6 News)

And now, the owners have learned they’ll stay in business — as one of five drive-in recipients of a digital projector through Honda’s Project Drive-In. The 99W Drive-In needed a new digital projector; otherwise, when the studios stop distributing 35-millimeter film prints later this year, it would have no way to show the new films.

Winners of the projectors were selected through The website asked voters to decide which theaters would get help “upgrading to digital projection.” That process costs a theater roughly $80,000, according to

As of press time, more than 2 million votes were submitted.

“I was totally surprised today to find out that we were the fifth drive-in to win the last of the first five projectors that were awarded out through Project Drive-In,” 99W Drive-In Owner Brian Francis told KOIN 6 News at a celebration party Sunday night.  The 99W Drive-In is at 3110 Portland Road in Newberg, Ore.

As it turned out, Francis said, “We had the most votes.”

Meanwhile, the Project Drive-In digital projector giveaway appears to have been extended. Four more projectors are now being given out, through voting, to drive-in theaters nationwide. The following Pacific Northwest theaters are included: Motor Vu Drive-In Dallas Ore.; Wheel-In Motor Movie Drive-In in Port Townsend, Wash.; and the Auto-Vue Drive-In in Colville, Wash. Winners of the four additional projects will be announced Sept. 23.

Francis said his theater plans to keep at least one of its 35-millimeter projectors to continue showing vintage “snack bar films.”

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