91-year old pitches drive-in movie bid

Nonagenarian entrepreneur wants to bring back golden years of drive-in movies

Western Investor
April 20, 2016


Duffy Besenski wants to bring back the golden era of drive-in cinema to Saskatoon.

And the 91-year-old knows what he’s talking about.

The elderly entrepreneur once owned five drive-in theatres in the province and even helped build the Golden West Drive-In Theatre with his father in Humboldt, where he grew up.

Now he’s planning to build a four-screen drive-in movie theatre on 40 acres close to where he used to run the Sundown Drive-In on the outskirts of Saskatoon. The Sundown was the city’s last outdoor movie facility when it turned off the projector for the last time six years ago. At the time, it was still profitable.

Besenski’s plans include erecting the first screen this summer and then building the next three as quickly as possible. The costs aren’t exorbitant as he estimates his capital expenses, including the latest in digital projection technology, will be around $400,000.

In an effort to increase the drive-in’s share of wallet, he’s planning to have a top-notch concession stand and the kinds of features that have been so popular at indoor movie complexes in recent years, such as games rooms and playgrounds.

Of course, it also helps that so many vehicles today are SUVs and mini-vans so people aren’t able to sneak in by hiding in a vehicle’s trunk.

He became convinced that drive-ins are on the upswing after spending time in Florida recently and chatting with the new owner of a four-screen facility.

Geoff has been a contributor to Western Investor for 15 years. He is also a senior business reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, covering real estate and financial services. Geoff plays competitive tennis at a national level in the senior ranks and is an amateur boxer and hockey player. His favourite Star Wars character is Yoda.
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