Let's Go To a Drive-In Movie!

Culture | September 14, 2017

Who remembers going to drive-in movies when you were a kid? I remember going a few times in my youth with my parents, we went to see “Smokey and the Bandit” on one outing. There was something special about sitting under the stars and watching the big screen from your car. You could be as loud as you wanted, eat snacks that you brought along with you and snuggle under a blanket, too!

Drive-ins are iconic, who can forget the scene in “Grease” when Danny and Sandy are at the drive-in and he get’s rejected by her, singing his sorrows of a no make-out session, with the movie screen in the background. Or “Back To The Future, Part III” when Doc Brown takes Marty to a deserted drive-in in 1955 so he can travel back to the wild west in 1855.

The first drive-in opened in 1933, in Camden, NJ. The catch phrase at the time was “Movie Theater Let’s Cars Drive Right In!” Back then the idea of driving a car to watch a movie outdoors was new and exciting. Some showed B-movies, but most showed the same films as in indoor theaters. Admission to a drive-in back in the 50’s was only 25 cents a person and teens loved it! They could go out on dates, drink or smoke and sneak friends in the trunk of their car to save on admission. There are many reasons they were so popular in the 50’s and 60’s, but they were known as a “passion pit” by teenagers who would make out on their movie date.

One of the largest drive-in theaters was in Copiague, New York, with parking spaces for 2,500 cars! Along with a playground, cafeteria, restaurant and a shuttle train on the 28 acres. Other drive-in theaters had amusement parks, boat rides, fishing ponds and in-car heaters for the chilly nights. Some popular music groups performed before the movies began and some drive-ins even held religious services on Sunday mornings and evenings.

During the height of popularity, there were about 4,000 drive-in theaters around the U.S. and today there are around 300. The popularity of television started the demise of the drive-ins but there are still a few around the U.S. that are still operating. 

Now you don’t have to clip speakers in your car window and the pictures are of better quality with technology.You get the retro feel, like a special occasion. A sense of happiness and fun, kids can play, it’s a social event. Everything old is new again, so the uprise of the drive-in movie is due to come around again! 

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Cyn Felthousen-Post


Cyn loves history, music, Irish dancing, college football and nature. Social media is also her thing, keeping up with trends and celebrities with positive news. She can be found outside walking or hiking with her son when she's not working. Carpe diem is her fave quote, get out there and seize the day!