Drive-in Theaters: A History from Their Inception in 1933
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A primarily American institution (though it appeared in other countries such as Japan and Italy), the drive-in theater now sits on the verge of extinction. During its heyday, drive-ins could be found in communities both large and small. Some of the larger theaters held up to 3,000 cars and were often filled to capacity on weekends. The history of the drive-in from its beginnings in the 1930s through its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s to its gradual demise in modern-day America is thoroughly documented here: the patent battles, community concerns with morality (on-screen and off), technological advances (audio systems, screens, etc.), audiences, and the drive-in’s place in the motion picture industry.
all fast food at vastly inflated prices but the family got to eat together, play together, be entertained together all in one night, after driving for miles in their beloved automobile and never having to stray very far from it. Plenty of films were available in those days. If they weren't much good at least parents could have little trouble in finding a "safe" film, one they felt would not warp little Johnny. With that exception, what film was being screened mattered little (if at all) to
$2,600.00; Week: $100.00 3. Booth supplies—Season: $78.00; Week: $3.00 4. Carbons—Season: $163.00; Week: $6.26 5. Film delivery—Season: $260.00; Week: $10.00 6. Lamps, floodlights, etc.—Season: $260.00; Week: $10.00 7. Sound service—Season: $260.00; Week: $10.00 8. Sound supplies and repairs—Season: $26.00; Week: $1.00 9. Tickets—Season: $52.00; Week: $2.00 10. Express—Season: $54.00; Week: $2.07 11. Records for non-sync—Season: $52.00; Week: $2.00 12. Janitors' supplies—Season:
Warren, "Life at the Movies," Houston Post, November 4, 1984, p. 22 (magazine). 16. "Insect-Free Theatre Packs 'Em In," Boxoffice, October 3, 1953, p. 47. 17. Jerry Dean, "Drive-In Heyday Passes," (Little Rock) Arkansas Gazette, February 8, 1983. Chapter 13 1. "Sero Joins Fights on Daylight Time," Variety, August 31, 1949; "Drive-In Chain Head Tosses Firecracker on TOA Floor," Hollywood Reporter, September 16, 1949; "Drive-Ins Rejoice, Daylight Savings Makes the Appetites Grow Stronger,"
this country only for part of the year. And during that part of the year the days were long—so long that one show per night was all that was really feasible. They showed a film that had made the rounds and then some by the time it unreeled at the drive-in. Sound quality ranged from abysmal all the way up to poor, with the illusion that the sound came from the actors' lips—always believable in a hardtop house—never even remotely sustainable outdoors. During the height of summer, for the first ten
opposed to a flat-rate basis. Those four drive-ins owned by the indoor exhibitor group used the very last runs for films, which drew the smallest crowd, to protect their indoor houses. This resulted in a much lower return to the distributors for these drive-ins.4 Jack Farr owned the Skyway Drive-In, open year-round, in Bryan, Texas. In 1949 RKO granted Skyway the opportunity to enter first-run bids for its product for the Bryan and College, Texas, area. Farr thought his drive-in was the first in