Springfield, other drive-in theaters won’t open this year

A trio of drive-in movie theaters in Clark, Clinton and Greene counties owned by a Springfield company won’t open for the season.

Media industry experts said a shift in the way movie studios produce films could be hurting the drive-in movie theaters at the same time cinema box offices had a record year in 2015.

The Melody Cruise-In, 4025 E. National Road in Springfield Twp., is one of the locations that will be closed for the 2016 season.

Skyborn Cruise-In in Fairborn and Wilmington Drive-In outdoor movies won’t be open for the season either, according to the Chakeres Theaters Facebook page.

The theater company did not return multiple calls for comment about the sudden closure or whether the theaters would be opened in the future.

“It is with deep regret that I inform you that at this time we won’t be able to open the Skyborn, Wilmington or Melody Cruise-In Drive-Ins for the 2016 season. Thank you for your past support and patronage,” the company posted on their Facebook.

The Melody 49 drive-in theater in Brookville/Clayton is open and showing movies, according to the company’s website.

Movie theaters across the United States took in more than $11 billion in ticket sales in 2015, said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Rentrak, which studies media consumption across the country.

Drive-in theaters across the country are closing, Dergarabedian said, possibly in part to the film industry’s transition to new production and distribution methods.

“Pretty much every movie studio has moved away from physical film prints and have all switched to digital,” he said.

The cost of upgrades to drive-in theater owners could be hindering companies from opening, experts said.

The news of the closing came as a shock to Carol Weller, who has lived across from the Springfield Twp. theater for nearly 40 years.

“I noticed that they didn’t have the sign up, and it’s kind of sad in a way to see that it’s not opening,” Weller said.

Others like Marsha Ackerman said the closure is like ending a chapter in history.

“I just cannot believe they would close because it’s such an icon in Springfield,” Ackerman said.

Many families who had planned to visit the Clark County outdoor cinema are now wondering where the next closest drive-in is located.

Sara Paisley, a mother of four, said she and her friends were recently wondering when the Melody would open and had talked about seeing a show now that her children are old enough to stay awake for a late movie.

Paisley said the Melody has been crowded in past summers when she has driven by the theater.

“It’s always full and packed when we pass it, so it’d be really disappointing to the community if it wasn’t opened back up,” Paisley said.

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