Are you a fan of old American TV shows that used to revolve around the many adventures of a big American family or a group of three or four friends? If you have watched these shows, you may recall watching an episode where the characters plan an outing to a drive-in theatre. With pizzas and soda in their hands, they sat on their car’s hood and enjoy the latest movie on a big screen. It won’t be wrong to say that if there is one thing that reminds us of the old times, it is drive-in cinemas.
Drive-in Movie Theatres: A History
It was in 1933 when the first patented drive-in theatre opened in New Jersey. Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. built the first-ever drive-in theatre. The theatre had space for 400 cars and a 40ft by 50ft large screen. The first movie to screen on the theatre was an Adolph Meniou film titled Wife Beware. Over the years, the cinema gained popularity among people to such an extent that were around 4,000 active drive-ins around the US. Today, every year in America, June 6 is celebrated as National Drive-in Movie Day.
But they say ‘nothing lasts forever’ and gradually, there came a day when the sun started setting on drive-ins. Earlier, it was the advent of VCRs and color television that led to a sharp decline in the number of cinema-goers. Then, with the dominance of online streaming apps and mobile devices, people eventually lost interest in going out for a movie. However, these cinemas have not been lost completely. Even though their number has been significantly reduced from 4,000 to just 355, the drive-ins are still quite popular among a majority of Americans.
There is no denying that drive-in cinemas weren’t introduced so that they could become a thing of the past. Bracing the technological advancements, many drive-ins vowed to make a comeback. Now, most of them offer amenities that attract people of all age. Some drive-ins are even pet-friendly, allowing worried pet owners to bring their furry friends with them for a movie date.
Many theatres have also started other entertainment activities like mini-golf and beer gardens. Some also feature locally sourced food, gourmet meals, and alcoholic beverage. Also, in comparison to a traditional cinema, a drive-in movie theatre is much cheaper and much relaxing. These cinemas also run classic films that can be a treat for those who appreciate the old movies. In this article, let’s have a look at some popular drive-in cinemas across the US.
1. Greenville Drive-In Outdoor Cinema | Greenville, New York
In 1959, the Greenville dive-in cinema opened its doors to the public. Located about two-and-a-half hours from New York City, the outdoor cinema focuses on the movies from the ’80s and the ’90s. Some of the most popular films scheduled in the cinema are Dirty Dancing, Dazed and Confused, Footloose, and Office Space. The venue also schedules live music for its valued customers. The moto of the facility is to partner with emerging filmmakers “to provide them with a space to screen and discuss their work”. So, if you are in the Big Apple for a short vacation, don’t forget to check this cinema out.
2. Doc’s Drive-in Theatre | Buda, Texas
Located about 15 miles from Austin, Doc’s drive-in entered the drive-in theatre’s space in 2018. Opened in the heart of Buda, Texas, the facility offers both first-run and classic films like The Dark Crystal, The Birds, and The Breakfast Club. When it comes to delicacies, the theatre doesn’t shy away from impressing the public. Along with offering on-site bar Mama Merlot’s, it offers nachos with shredded brisket, pulled pork sandwich, pretzels with beer cheese, waffles, and fancy hot dogs. Are you having water in your mouth just like us? While catching up on the classics like The Breakfast Club, you can enjoy finger-lickin’, scrumptious meals.
3. The Swap Shop | Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Celebrate for having the most screens of any drive-in outdoor cinema in the country, the 14-screen Swap Shop is the large drive-in theatre in the world. Since it also has late shows, you can even catch a show that starts at midnight. Also, the space is also the largest flea market in the world. So, you can enjoy shopping in the evening and then stay back to catch a movie.
4. Falconwood Park Drive-In | Omaha, Nebraska
Are you the Jake Peralta of Brooklyn Nine-Nine who is a ‘die-hard’ fan of Die Hard? If yes, this place is just for you. Falconwood is a popular drive-in based in Omaha and is sprawled on a 26-acre park. It features classics like the original Lion King and Die Hard.
5. Four Brothers Drive-In | Amenia, New York
Opened in 2015 in upstate New York, Four Brothers is located almost two hours from New York City. The theatre shows at least one ’80s classics on Thursdays. The drive-in also includes mini-golf, food trucks, and an EV charger.
Other Popular Drive-In Cinemas Across the US
6. The Mahoning Drive-in Theater | Lehighton, Pennsylvania
7. Blue Starlite Mini Boutique Drive-in | Austin, Texas and Minturn, Colorado
8. North Bay Mobile Drive-in | Novato, California
9. Wellfleet Drive-in Theatre | Wellfleet, Massachusetts
10. Bengies | Middle river, Maryland
11. Blue Fox Drive-in Theater | Oak Harbor, Washington
12. Coyote Drive-in | Fort Worth, Texas
13. Spud Drive-in | Driggs, Idaho
14. Shankweiler’s Drive-in Theater // Orefield, Pennsylvania
The Final Word
Are you planning an outing with your family or friends? Why not take them to any of the abovementioned theatres and have the time of your life? These drive-in cinemas that used to be quite popular across America have reclaimed their space and successfully grabbed the attention of a majority of Americans. So, have a night full of fun at any of these cinemas.