When Hollywood distributors announced that they’d be converting entirely from film to digital movies, they essentially issued an ultimatum to America’s remaining drive-in movie theaters—convert your projection booths for the hefty fee of 50,000 dollars or die. For many locally owned theaters, this demand came as a final blow to an already struggling business model; they played their last shows and sold their lots to real-estate developers. Those that did make the switch did so by crowdfunding, forming community non-profit groups, grants, and dogged determination. The Mahoning Drive-in Theater, near Allentown, Pennsylvania, decided to stay alive and stay on film.Read More
Arizona’s boundless black dessert sky makes for an ideal drive-in movie setting—a business dependent on open spaces and dark nights. In the past, when Americans were moving west in station wagons, the state was home to more than fifty theaters with names like “The Cactus” and “The Golden Valley Drive-in.” Today, only the West Wind Glendale 9 remains in operation, but Dave Meyers has a plan to begin reviving the drive-in tradition in Arizona.Read More
After attending an open-air movie screening, Abhijit Shah came up with a crazy idea—open a drive-in movie theater in his hometown, Bangalore, India. He shared his idea with a few friends and soon, “Under the Stars Cinema” (UTS) was born.Read More
Daylight was already sinking down the main screen when I arrived at the Ocala Drive-in. Owner John Watzke had agreed to meet for an interview but was running late, leaving me time to explore. Walking around a drive-in during the day feels like being backstage at a theater; you have to be “in” to get invited.
Like many twenty-six-year-olds, Chip Sawyer, a financial advisor for Publix Supermarkets with a master’s degree in Business Administration, has a side hustle—he owns two of Florida’s seven remaining drive-in movie theatres. The soft-spoken, curly-haired Sawyer inherited the Silver Moon and Joy-Lan Drive-ins after his grandfather’s death in 2017. I met him in his office behind the Silver Moon’s original, 1948 screen.Read More