The Randall / Bethel Drive-In

Back in 2013, we published a story about the Randall Drive-in: the theater was having trouble with the industry’s conversion to digital film, and its owners turned to Kickstarter to raise money to buy a new one, stating:

Our dream has been to run a drive-in movie theater and rather than have this renaissance season be a Swan Song for the Randall Drive-In, we are asking for assistance so our company can obtain a digital projector and we can keep running drive-ins for many years into the future.

The was unsuccessful, but the owners were able to raise money through a follow-on project, and the Drive-In ran for the 2014 season, but announced that they would be closing for good in November because the land’s owner wouldn’t lease the space for a third season, and that the projector they asked for funding for, had to go to another theater, or it would have to go back to the company they leased it from.

As many know, our company obtained the digital projector through a lease to own program, and we worked tirelessly to raise the money for the down payment and installation of this projector. Unfortunately the only option our company has is to either return the projector to the manufacturer or find another location to run a movie theatre at for all our drive-in fans.

As of April, the theater was still closed.

However, the state of Vermont is alleging that the Kickstarter was a fraud, and filed a lawsuit against the owners in September, claiming that while they had raised the money, they closed the theater down after the 2014 season, and brought the equipment to New York. The Attorney General’s office noted that “the Defendants made misrepresentations and omissions about the future of the Randall Drive-In, including ‘rather than have this renaissance season be a Swan Song for the Randall Drive-In, we are asking for assistance,” and that ‘digital cinema now threatens to close down the drive-in for good.’ The Complaint alleges that the Defendants made these statements despite knowing that the digital projector would not play a role at the Randall Drive-In beyond the 2014 season,” and that they misrepresented the costs. You can read the full complaint here.

At the same time, someone posted to the Randall Drive-In Facebook page, disputing the allegations: “The Attorney General’s office published a copy of a pending lawsuit against the former operators of the Randall Drive-in in an attempted smear campaign to sway public opinion. While the lawsuit makes many allegations, time will prove that there is no truth, fact or evidence to support their claims.” The statement goes on to say that the office has been provided with evidence about the former operators, and condemned them for going after a small business. 

The space resumed as a movie theater once again in 2015, now as the Bethel Drive-In. Last year, the new operators have upgraded the facilities, with a new screen and have recently addressed the question of the digital projector. While the 35mm projector operated last year, they’re in the process of installing a new one.