We’re Going to the Drive-in!

800px-Hollywood_Drive_In_New_YorkOne of the first movies I saw at a theater was at a drive-in. I was eight years old and my friend Heather’s older brother had the family car for the evening. He let us tag along (allowed us to go along) with his friends to see a movie. He drove onto the large drive-in theater parking lot, parked alongside (next to) one of the speakers (device used to project sound) which he removed from the stand (something holding something in place) and hooked (placed over the top using a piece of curved metal so it would stay in place) onto the car door so we could hear the audio (sound) in the car, and went to the concession stand (place where food and drinks are sold, usually at a movie, concert, or similar event) to get our popcorn and sodas. Then, the outdoor screen in front of us came alive and the movie started.

My first drive-in experience came at the tail-end (near the end) of the drive-in’s popularity. In 1958, at the peak (highest point) of the drive-in craze (with a lot of enthusiasm for something), there were over 4,000 drive-ins in the United States. By the 1990s, many had closed, and today, there are about 350 drive-ins still in existence (remaining) in the U.S.

One reason for the slow demise (death) of drive-ins is rising (going up) real estate (buying of land and buildings) prices. Obviously, you need a large enough piece of land for cars to park to make enough money on each movie screening (showing).

Another major problem for drive-in owners is the switch (change) to digital projectors. Movie projectors allow film or digital images to be shown on a large screen. Movies used to be copied onto film for distribution (given to many people). Now, movies are distributed to theaters in digital form. One digital projector costs about $70,000 per (for each) screen, according to a recent Time magazine article.

Even with these major obstacles (problems in the way), some drive-ins are surviving (staying alive) and some are thriving (doing well). Some theaters are going upscale (with finer quality and appealing to pickier or more selective tastes) by offering quality beer and wine, and better food than the usual popcorn and candy. These theaters are located in urban areas and try to appeal to hipsters, people who follow the latest trends and fashions.

Do drive-ins exist where you live? Have you ever been to a drive-in? What is your favorite environment for watching a movie?

– Lucy

Photo  Credit: Hollywood Drive in New York from Wikipedia

This entry was posted in Life in the United States, Television and Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to We’re Going to the Drive-in!

  1. Dan says:

    Hey there Lucy.

    I am not aware of their existence here in my region (Lombardy,Italy) and even if they exist I have never been there.

    I do not know, I have not watched an entire movie for almost a couple of years now. If I remember it well I prefer to see a movie at home.

    Yes, certainly at home. Just the thought of taking the car and driving nine miles to the cinema is a pain in the neck.


  2. emiliano says:

    No dear Lucy, not now or ever I think.

    Years ago there were movies in the open air, with chears or something similar, buy you goes by foot
    and it was in summer time, some beaches or places with nice good wether at night.
    Usually the movies were old one and the families who were on holidays use to go with the children.

    Going with cars I think that here we have never have such kind of drive-in places.

    The only place I have seen them have been in movies that take place in your country EE.UU: and
    it was funny of seeing, peculiar and it takes old movies sesions to me, going to the theatre long

    May be a movie of Nataly Wood?, it is possible but not West Side Story of course. It took place
    in New York, so it was more or less impossible.

    By the way, how good movie it was, recently I have seen it at home by blu-ray, incredible to
    see it again in a big flat screen…., one of the best places to see movies now beside a theatre
    as always. New theatres with wide sits, nice sound, and big screens, yes that´s good also.
    The best site of course.


  3. Lily says:

    I have been to the drive-in years ago in my town( South Korea) but I don’t really think there are a lot of drive-in these days though.

    I certainly like to see a movie at home rather than drive-in.


  4. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    In Brazil, I think, there were drive-ins in big cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, but in the city I was born in I never heard about them. When I was about 10 years old my father would give me money every Sunday so that I would go to the cinema for to see movies. That time I loved to watch farwest with Roy Rogers, John Waine and so forth. Superman, Marvel, Mandrake and others were my favorite ones. Big best sellers like “Gone by the wind” were too good ones. But the unforgetable one was “The Bagdad chief” an adventure occurred in Iraq, with a genius enclosed in a bottle for 10,000 years, very powerful and tricky. Interesting! Today people watch films at home by DVD players. Pity!
    Aecio from the country below the equator where there is no sin.

  5. Lassana says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I had often saw some drives-in in movies. I think this manner to watch movies is very nice and entertaining.
    Unfortunatly there is not this kind of environnement to see movies, here in France.

    I hope one day if I have a chance to travel in US for holiday, I”ll go there to see this amazing kind of cinema.

    Moreover in France we can go to the theatre out. Each year at summer period, Many people go out to see a movie.
    It takes place at centers of big cities such as Paris, Lyon and even here in Strasbourg.
    This is the mayors which organize this event during the summer period.

    I had saw a movie one time, it´s was very nice.

    See you soon !


  6. George Louis says:

    I’ve never seen movies at a drive-in. I think there’s none here.
    I’ve seen something similar though. When I was a little boy, sometimes I would see some buses carrying around big screens, and they would install it down the street. Usually in some large area like a parking lot, so people could get together and watch it. After a time they would go away. I’m not sure if it might be called drive-in theather.

    I like going to regular theathers and watching movies there. However, there’s nothing better than watching it in my bedroom. 🙂

  7. Wang says:

    Dear Lucy!

    That must be another strange invention of Americans :D…It’s hard to think of another more suitable, logical reason for the idea! I found it sometimes America is so generous to supply those services to seekers

    At first, I wondered Why there are tons of movie theaters in the land, you know, with more comfortable padding chairs, air cons, snack’s stand in reach – a few steps of walking…There is no reasons for customers to

    choose being in their tiny-space cars instead of a much larger space inside a theater. Then I thought twice and sorted it out! There are people who still want to chat with their buddies while watching a movie, so within

    your own space, you can break each other up, have a belly laugh or throw out commends for such a soup opera, bemoan for such dramatic scenes… without annoying other people. You all know those practices are

    not considered as polite behaviors inside a movie room…therefore, elsewhere we can solve the matter instead of a drive-in. And that thought had struck me for a while, honestly. Some will say you can be at home,

    still enjoy the film as chatting. But this is just how the reality is, there people want a half of this and a half of that. They want to feel like going out and having their own space simultaneously. it is the point that marks

    and contribute a hand to set up the only America, I guess. Even though, it is identified as a weird idea for some in the US, but it is in need for the others and where there is need, there is provider. I consider it as a

    concept of how a businessman is. 😀

    Best regard!


  8. Myo ko ko says:

    Hi Lucy
    I didn’t know there drive-ins exist in the U.S.
    Thank you for telling us about it.
    Lucy, you know, here you’re not teaching us just this English,
    but you bring cultural background of the US of A as well.
    If I didn’t happen to read this post, I wouldn’t have had any clue to what this word “drive-in”
    you know Lucy
    Even though you’re talking about this”old” tradition, about drive-ins, it is still “new” to
    me to learn! Thank you indeed for making us learn something new every day.

  9. Ben says:

    It is really hard to imagine watching a movie in a car.This kind of thing cannot possibly happen
    in my country nowadays,I guess.
    You know,the problem of traffic is increasingly becoming a large problem,which cannot be solved
    well in many other countries as well.So it is so common to be trapped in the traffic jam regardless of
    your working days or your weekends,which can easily drive me up the wall.That means that watching a movie in a car
    seems not a advisable way to relax my minds.Because maybe I will keep thinking how hard I may drive my car home when
    the film ends during the time of watching.Therefore,I’d rather prefer to stay at home,watching movie,settling myself in my sofa.
    That’s my way to relax my body and my mind and my favorite environment watching a movie as well.
    And also Another favorite way to see a movie for me is to lie myself on the bed with a ipad in my hand.It feels awesome too.
    Oh,I guess I am pretty lazy.

  10. Myo ko ko says:

    Your post reminds me of the small “video theater” to where I, as a teenager, went and enjoyed
    seeing videos. Although I call it a “theater,” it was actually a small building that can house about
    200 persons or so. There was nothing inside, but a 21″ flat TV on which videos were displayed
    and shown to audieance, mats laying just on top of the ground for people to sit on, and some
    wooden stands at the back part of the house. Videos were screened almost every night and I
    would go there every three days or so and certainly enjoyed the screenings. As you know, I grew up in a countryside and at that time TVs were so rare that you could hardly find one in a villeage
    and it was the time when “video theaters” played a important role in movie industry.

    But now, with the passage of time, things have changed a lot.
    With the advent of advanced and newer technologies such as Internet, blu-ray, DVD, VCD, name it, the tradition of people going to a single place to watch screenings becomes to die slowly.
    That in turn leads to extinction of old traditions like drive-ins and video theaters.

    But there is more for us. The disappearance of such a old tradition from its existence can have
    effects on us, especially on our feelings. Of course we grew up being shaped up in a particular set
    of traditions, customs, cultures and how do we feel when we mature enough and start to realize that an old tradition that we grew up in is gradually faded away or it is no longer in existence?
    In that case, we’re losing something, and yep, that something is a thing that we can never get back
    again in our lifetimes. We never know, sometimes a thing of the past can be a thing that can hurt — for us.

    Thanks Lucy, your post gives me something emotional.
    Myo ko ko

  11. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    Well done, Ben. Great words.
    Aecio from nowhere.

  12. Ben says:

    hey, Aecio.Brazil,where I am looking forward to going.
    If I remember correctly,The next world cup will be held in your country.
    You know,I am a football buff.How lucky you are.

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