THE HISTORY OF DRIVE-INS
IN UNDER 5 MINUTES:
Tuesday June 6, 1933
The First Drive-In Theater was invented by Richard M. Hollingshead. Hollingshead worked out the details by hanging a sheet for a screen in his backyard. Richard began to experiment in the driveway of his home at 212 Thomas Avenue, New Jersey. Richard mounted a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, he used it to project onto a screen he had nailed to trees in his backyard. He placed a radio behind the screen for sound, then started his test of his idea. Richard tested sound with the windows up, down and half way. He tested many weather conditions, using his lawn sprinkler he simulated a rainstorm. Richard liked what he saw and heard.
One main problem did arise in his test. That was if cars were parked behind each other, the cars at the rear would not be able to see the whole picture, due to the car in front. This did not stop Richard, he lined up cars in his driveway spacing them at various distances and placing blocks under their front wheels he was able to find the correct spacing and the correct angles to build ramps for the cars front tires to park on. Thus was born the first Patent for the Drive-In Theater.
January of 1942
Drive-In theaters had began to spread across the U.S. There were 95 Drive-Ins spread across 27 states. Ohio led the way with 11 Drive-Ins.
As soon as the war ended the Baby Boom began. By the end of the 40s the drive-in theaters were full of children looking for something to do. Most theaters found a new use for that area between the front row and the screen, by adding a Playground. This had a major return for most theaters. People began to arrive early so their children could plan on the playground. Then after a workout on the playground a trip to the concession stand was in order.
The drive-in boom was under way. Going from less than 1,000 in 1948 to close to 5,000 by 1958. The drive-in etched its place in history, not just in the U.S.A. but in many countries across the world. During the same years of 1948 to 1958 over 5,000 indoor theaters closed reducing their number from 17,000 to 12,000.
1960s and 1970s Stagnation!
Well that about describes the 60s and 70s. There are still drive-ins being built, but many are closeing. The hay day is gone, many theatres even pull out their playground equipment in the 70s since few families are attending. Many of the movies target a teen or adult audience. Examples the beach movies of the 60s and the movies in the 70s like The Van Texas Cheerleaders, etc
1980s DEAD END, Drive-in.
The 80s started out fair and got very bad before its end. Low attendance almost kills the drive-in. Many owners say it hits over night. Last year 500 cars on a Friday this year 50 cars.
Whats happening? Many things hit to pull people away from the drive-in. Some of the biggest are Cable TV and VCRs. Hollywood is right to our home, so why go anywhere?
Even to this day there are close to 1,000 dead drive-ins growing weeds across the US. Many like this drive-in that closed in the late 80s, notice there are trees 20 tall growing in the lot.
1990S Drive-Ins Return!?
Something happens in the 90s, the number of theatres closing slows down. Many drive-ins add extra screens, many go Twin, some go Tripple, a few go Quad, one in Florida goes 13 screens!!!!! The crowds and the families return. Also if you look at the crowd you see mostly families with young children, just like the crowds of the 50s, it seems that a new generation has discovered the drive-in.
Some drive-ins reopen in the late 90s.
We are still losing some drive-ins, but the numbers are stable. Drive-ins begin to spring up overseas, one was opened in Russia in 1999, and a few have opened in other countries, along with some re-openings like in Spain.
2010 The Drive-In Strikes Back
A guy in Austin, Texas starts buying up drive-in movie theater speakers on Ebay, teaches himself how to restore them, and opens the first ever Mini Urban Drive-In with the theory that smaller is better!
The Boutique drive-in is born by taking advantage of the main things that almost made the drive-in extinct:
The exodus to the Concrete Jungle Urban Sprawl (less room meant less space for hundreds of cars)
The advent of VHS, Cable, Satellites, and DVDs meant that people could watch everything at home without having to drive 30 miles out to a field in the middle of nowhere.
But, the Mini Urban Drive-In requires less space and is more exclusive, more personal, more intimate and RIGHT DOWN THE STREET.
The Blue Starlite concentrates on indie films, art house, cult, Gen X/Y, childhood favorites, and drive-in classics. A new drive-in experience is born right in the heart of the CITY!