Drive-in theater keeps up tradition as they move into the digital age

Published: Nov. 15, 2013 at 9:43 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2013 at 2:13 AM CST
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Clarendon, TX - Movie technology has changed a lot since the 1950's and the heyday of drive-in theaters.

The Sandell Drive-In in Clarendon made the switch to digital two years ago, but they are still trying to keep the nostalgia from when it originally opened.

The Sandell Drive-In opened back in September of 1955. Back then it was owned by Gary Barnhill and was named after his two daughters Sandra and Adele.

Then in 2002 John Murrow purchased it after it has been closed for 16 years and brought back a piece of his childhood for the community.

"I remember attending it when I was a kid and how much fun we had back here then, I kinda wanted my kids to be able to enjoy it as well as other kids in the community," said John Morrow who is the Owner of Sandell Drive-In.

As they make the transition from film to digital the Sandell Drive-In is trying to keep the charm of the 1950's and bring it into the digital age.

"It's really an experience that you don't get you know watching TV, they come out here and they have a good time, people bring their lawn chairs and sit in the backs of pick ups and stuff like that, there's a true experience here," said Morrow.

Then two years ago as more film companies began shipping hard drives instead of 35 millimeter film they took a very expensive risk and bought a digital projector.

"Well, the conversion was around $68,500 dollars and then it took another additional amount where it made a total of about $70,000 to convert. And I say it's a good deal but it will take us a good long time at the rate we are going now to pay for that," explained Morrow.

Murrow told us while the jump to digital was expensive he did it for the community to make sure he was able to keep this piece of Clarendon history alive.

If you would like to take a trip back to the 1950's and experience the drive-in for yourself, they are open one more weekend before they close for this season.

You may visit their website at