The Rise And Fall Of The Drive-In Theater – Cheddar Explains

by birtanpublished on August 4, 2020

In 1928 a young richard hollingshead was working as a sales manager at his family's auto parts store in camden new jersey hollingshead was a movie buff but he couldn't share his passion with his mother

As the story goes she was a rather large woman who couldn't fit comfortably into theater seats of the day so hollings had decided to bring the theater to her

His mother sat in the family car on which he placed a projector from there he tied two sheets together between two trees and pressed play the drive-in movie theater

Was born hollingshead was on to something he combined america's growing reliance on cars and passion for car culture with the growing movie industry

He began experimenting with drive-in theater layouts that would allow each car to have a clear view of the screen in may 1933 he patented his concept a month later the first drive-in theater

Opened in camden new jersey park at theaters by 1949 his patent was overturned and other operators were able to open their own independent drive-ins in theaters became a staple of american

Culture for the better part of the rest of the 20th century but now there are fewer than 300 remaining so what happened you may be quick to point to advancements in technology like

The television and vhs tape but that's only part of the story this is the rise and fall of the drive-in theater america in the 50s and 60s was prime for

The drive-in theater soldiers were starting families the economy was booming and car culture had officially taken over drive-ins were the perfect place for

Families and young couples seeking some alone time throughout these two decades some 5 000 theaters sprung up across the country well i think in the 50s you know they

Were more like a place where people could you know not only you know get some kind of entertainment but also you know socialize with friends that kind of thing the thing was you could bring the

Whole family you didn't have to worry about the kids you know making noise or any of those kind of problems you know everybody just piled in the car and you know that was sort of your living room you basically brought your living

Room to the drive-in but despite this initial success the first holes were already showing up in the drive-in model the first being space the property values

Of a driving theater are normally very high it's prime commercial property we all know how much commercial property is right now our theater is about 13 acres they vary

Everybody has you know you can have a single you can have a double you have a triple like warwick some figure theaters have five and six screens and plus so it's whatever you decide to use on your

Property that they have according to the new york film academy drive-ins had to be at least 15 acres to be effective and financially stable and most of them were set up on the

Outskirts of growing towns at the time most were established these towns were growing quickly the country was in the midst of a suburban boom americans were leaving cities and

Flocking to suburbs making land increasingly more valuable between 1950 and 1970 americans suburban population nearly doubled to 74 million for drive-in theater

Owners it soon became a more lucrative option to close down their drive-ins and sell their lands to developers and that actually happened to a drive-in that i worked in when i was in high

School it was in haltom city texas it all of a sudden during the 1980s it was gone and what replaced it was like a small like little community of condos and

That was sort of the end of the driving you know in that town the drive-ins that survived were faced with another challenge competition with cinemas indoor theaters were springing up in the same suburbs

Targeted by drive-in theaters and they had an advantage indoor theaters could run multiple showings a day drive-ins on the other hand could only operate at night

And only were able to show one or two films per screen per night therefore studios distributed their first run films to indoor theaters this meant the drive-ins were left with

B-list films previously released films and eventually adult films it was probably more expensive you know as you know to rent the a-list films so they didn't make as much money

And the operating profits you know profit margin probably got you know more thin you know by the 70s and 1980s that kind of thing so in order for them to be competitive they could get these b

Movies cheaper and at the same time it created sort of like a cult uh place to go where they'd have like slasher films and you know these strange horror movies but arguably the biggest blow to the

Drive-in business came in 1966 with the uniform time act and the overwhelming sympathy of our people is for daylight saving time as a delegation to the senate from this

County we want to assure the people of this county that we're going to oppose any bill that would seek to prevent daylight saving time when we first get ready to open in march and it's dark by

Seven o'clock now with daylight savings time we gain a minute of lightness every day up until june 22nd i think it is so we actually have to push our start times and the

Right beginning of june is about 8 50 but once we hit like june 20th the first day of summer we're almost about 9 15 films would now be beginning at 10 pm making families less likely to

Attend daylight savings was such a threat to the business model that drive-ins ran ads like these during intermission

and finally in the late 1970s thanks to sony's revolutionary betamax deck which hooks up to any tv set now you can automatically videotape your favorite show even when you're not home

And watch it anytime you want for the first time families could rent or buy vhs tapes and watch them in the comfort of their own homes movie theaters both indoor and out became less

Appealing to the general public in the 1970s there was still a bunch of drive-ins in the us but what happened was so many different types of entertainment and and media came into vogue you know a

Blockbuster video came into you know into being really successful and instead of going to the drive-in people would basically they basically got lazy just stayed at home and watched the

Movies you know in their uh living room so you could basically you know do the same thing but not have to leave the house at the same time you had so many other

Avenues of entertainment but then you know it wasn't like in the 1950s was limited to either you know people playing an instrument at home or listening to the

Am radio and then the driving that was about it or the movie theater today there are fewer than 300 drive-in theaters across the us but since the coronavirus pandemic

Many drive-ins have seen an uptick in attendance as they are the perfect space for a socially distanced night out on the town in early july walmart announced a partnership with tribeca enterprises

In which it would convert 160 of its parking lots into socially distant drive-in movie theaters this summer so while the industry has faced many hurdles

It seems that the drive-in still hasn't reached its twilights yet thanks for watching don't forget to subscribe and hit that bell so you'll be notified whenever we release a new video

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