More movie-goers flocking to Milford Drive-In this year

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
August 03. 2015 9:17PM
Hanna Kelly, 11, of Derry, left, and her sister, Claire, 15, tailgate with their family during a showing of "Minions" at the Milford Drive-In. Thomas Roy/Union Leader 

MILFORD — The Milford Drive-In Movie Theater has seen an uptick in visitors this summer, contributing to better revenues than it received last year at this time.

“This year there is product, so there is business,” said owner Bob Scharmett. “The last couple of years there has not been a lot of good movies, and last year was terrible.”

Scharmett opened the drive-in theater in 1969, and has kept it in business for 46 years despite the high costs of showing new releases.

“You have to show the new releases or no one comes, so we show the new movies every Friday,” said Scharmett. “It costs so much for the films today, which is part of the problem. The stars are getting the big money, and the film companies are getting the big money.”

Scharmett said he is fortunate to already own the property, meaning he doesn’t have to pay a monthly mortgage.

“We also have four car washes as well. We couldn’t live on just the drive-in theater,” he admits.

The drive-in, located at 531 Elm St., is open every night. For a car with six passengers, the cost is $25. “This is a family business, and it is a family environment,” said Scharmett’s son, Barry Scharmett. “The kids keep us going. Their parents grew up at this drive-in.”

With many kids preoccupied with hand-held electronics, it is sometimes difficult to get them out of the house and interested in something family-oriented, according to the younger Scharmett.

The drive-in gets them away from the hand-held devices for a while so they can get outside and enjoy a different type of entertainment with their parents and friends, he added.

Thousands of people can visit the drive-in on a typical Friday night, said Barry.

Recently, the Scharmett family tried its first simulcast of the final Grateful Dead concert in Chicago.

“That was a great opportunity for us, and now we know there is the potential for airing simulcast sporting events, concerts and other venues,” said Barry Scharmett. “We received absolutely incredible feedback from the Grateful Dead concert. It went over quite well.”

“You have to be willing to try something new in order to attract a new customer base, and people seem to appreciate that,” agreed Bob.

The Milford location is ideal for the drive-in theater, according to Barry, who said visitors from as far south as Boston, the New Hampshire seacoast and as far west as Keene make the trip to the drive-in.

Two upcoming releases include “Fantastic Four” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

khoughton@newstote.com





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