Why did Drive-In's die off?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Captain Leo, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Thievius

    Thievius Blue Öyster Cultist

    This. Theaters killed Drive Ins at the end of the 70s, a good 20 some odd years before the internet even existed for the masses.

    Theaters killed Drive Ins because:
    Better comfort
    Better picture
    Better sound
    More flexibility/More showings/More movies

    Drive Ins had one thing going for them - nostalgia. They were not a great way to watch films.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
    Matthew Tate and Vidiot like this.
  2. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    Why did Drive-In's die off?
  3. Bryan

    Bryan Starman Jr.

    Berkeley, CA
    Yep. I feel like, "Why were drive-ins ever a thing in the first place?," is a better question.
    Dudley Morris likes this.
  4. Thesmellofvinyl

    Thesmellofvinyl Forum Resident

    Cohoes, NY USA
    I think this needs to be in this thread.

    Someone else can post a link to the intermission film.
  5. townsend

    townsend Forum Resident

    Montrose, CO
    Yeah, if not the millennials, it gotta be those damn baby boomers . . .
  6. billh

    billh Forum Resident

    Orange County, CA
    I never went to the drive in to watch the movie.
  7. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    when I was a youngster we went every week...I can still remember how much fun it was! remember burning a mosquito repellent called PIC.
  8. Thievius

    Thievius Blue Öyster Cultist

    What I remember most about being a kid in the early 70s and the drive in, was being in the back seat, with this front and center:


    Good times. ;)
    Chad75 likes this.
  9. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    As others have said, land value skyrocketed and also much better options became available for consumers.
    Matthew Tate likes this.
  10. clhboa

    clhboa Forum Resident

    Real Estate value killed off the Yucca Drive-In in Santa Fe, NM in the 90's. When it closed it was still doing a brisk business. A newspaper article at the time stated that the land was owned by an out of state party who thought they could make more money selling the land rather than continuing to lease it out to a Drive-In.
  11. JAuz

    JAuz Forum Resident

    There used to be one in Atlanta during '90s when I was a student, off of I-85. The North 85 Twin maybe? Here's a photo I took while watching "Batman & Robin" there in 1997.

    BadJack likes this.
  12. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Good explanation on Wikipedia:

    The shift in content of drive-ins was less of a problem than competition from home entertainment, from color television to VCRs and video rentals. This, along with the 1970s energy crisis led to a sharp decline of attendance as well to the widespread adoption of daylight saving time (which made the shows start an hour later), making it harder for drive-ins to operate successfully. Also, the 1980s real estate interest rate hikes made the large property areas increasingly expensive, and thus far too valuable for businesses such as drive-ins, which in many cases were summer-only. Drive-ins were also subject to the whim of nature as inclement weather often caused poor attendance or cancellations. Less than two hundred drive-ins were in operation in the U.S. and Canada by the late 1980s. Since the 1990s they have lapsed into a quasi-novelty status with the remaining handful catering to a generally nostalgic audience, with many drive-ins continuing to successfully operate in some areas, mostly on the West Coast. Newer theaters opened during this time, as well as a handful of them reopened. By 2013, drive-ins comprised only 1.5 percent of movie screens in the United States, with 389 theaters in operation. At the industry's height, about 25 percent of the nation's movie screens had been in a drive-in.

    Drive-in theater - Wikipedia

    I think the truth is that pop culture kind of thought drive-in theaters were kind of cool and fun in the 1960s, but they became less fun, not cool, and kind of run-down and sleazy by the 1970s. Sunlight, bad picture quality, bad sound quality, and other factors made drive-ins problematic.

    But they were fun when you were a kid, and for a time it was a great place to take a date and make-out in your car, for those of a certain age.

  13. rene smalldridge

    rene smalldridge Senior Member

    Me , too HOWEVER I had no car and did not drive SO my date and I always claimed the sweet spot in the backseat while various motorvatin' buddies and their teen queens had to hormonize in front.
  14. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Victoria, Canada
    Ours doubled as a day-time swap n' shop/car boot sale here for a long time until the land got sold to a mall developer. I remember I could see the screen from one window at my grandparents' and would watch Woody Woodpecker and Chilli Willi without sound, no idea why that seemed neat but it did. Once when I was a little older I got in free by hiding under a blanket in a station-wagon.

    Now vehicles themselves come with multiple monitor screens and audiophile stereo systems.
    Randon Ton and Vidiot like this.
  15. Mr. E. Tramp

    Mr. E. Tramp Forum Resident

    We have one a little less than an hour away and my son did their web site. Starlite Drive-In of Bloomington They have some fun stuff coming up for kicking off Halloween this weekend.
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  16. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    There still a "nostalgia drive-in" a few cities up from Santa Barbara I took the kids a couple years ago. It's a miserable way to see a movie. I mean they're fun to go to but, the quality is Horrible.
    SandAndGlass and Vidiot like this.
  17. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Marysville, WA
    In areas that are/were even remotely urban or suburban, this is absolutely true. Near a city? Want to find where the drive in used to be? Find a 25 year old shopping center, or a Lowe's, or a Wal-Mart, or a Park-and-Ride, or a multi-plex indoor theatre.

    In urban areas, it's almost always "financial value of big chunks of real estate" vs. "growth." One oddball example: I grew up where Interstate 5 used to end. (I'm not kidding. It was about four blocks from our house when I was a kid, and you'd be cruising up I-5 north, then all of a sudden you were on Broadway Avenue in Everett, WA. You could take Interstate 5 south from my neighborhood all the way to San Diego, but to go north toward Vancouver, BC, Canada, it was all streets and highways -- no freeway.) When the freeway was expanded to the north, a whole lotta sort-of-urban housing and business got destroyed to make way for elevated highway, including the Sky-View Drive-In, about 8 blocks from home. Other local drive-ins became 1.) A Safeway shopping center; 2.) An RV dealership; 3.) a hospital; 4.) a Lowe's; 5. a Wal-Mart; 6.) an asian-themed shopping center; the list goes on.

    I'm not 100% sure how it is since the forced conversion to digital projection, but 7 or 8 years ago, many of the drive-ins that had survived were actually doing quite well, with a loyal customer base. I'm sure some shut down a few years ago because they were staring a significant expense in the eye (digital projection conversion).
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  18. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I can remember plenty of people who would roll down the top of the convertible and watch that way, sitting on the back. Or even people who'd bring lawn chairs and watch in those. We kids ran around carousing most of the time. Those are lost days now.

    Another huge problem is that they had to put a ton of light behind the print in order to get any kind of reasonable picture on the screen. They were frying those prints with really, really bright carbon arc light sources. Trying to match those brightness levels with digital today is not cheap and is not easy.
  19. James Slattery

    James Slattery Forum Resident

    Long Island
    Once a summer for the last 2 years, I took my girlfriend to the closest one to me in Long Island, two hours north. Unlike the ones we used to have here, which were in paved lots, this one is on a hilly field. Unfortunately, my problem wasn't with the drive in but with the fact that modern movies really suck IMO. The experience was nostalgic but the films sucked.
    Ginger Ale, MarkTheShark and Chad75 like this.
  20. Burt

    Burt Forum Resident

    Kirkwood, MO
    Most drive ins also hosted swap-and-shop events which were a big revenue generator and when Craigslist and eBay cut into that this also cut off a revenue stream.

    Finally, at most of them, the concession stands were definite health hazards. As were the restrooms, usually extremely filthy.
    SandAndGlass and pablo fanques like this.
  21. tommy-thewho

    tommy-thewho Forum Resident

    detroit, mi
    We spent more time drinking than watching the movie.

    Party time.
  22. dmckean

    dmckean Forum Resident

    San Diego, CA, USA
    Yeah, I think open container laws killed drive-ins more than anything.
    SandAndGlass and Nice Marmot like this.
  23. woody

    woody Forum Resident

    charleston, sc
  24. pablo fanques

    pablo fanques "Mr. F!"

    Poughkeepsie, NY
    I'm in Poughkeepsie, NY with TWO Drive-Ins in fairly close proximity. Haven't been to either in a few years but they both do well and are in no danger of closing anytime soon. I saw Inglorious Basterds at one when it came out and remember it having the quality of an old fashioned 'in theater videotaped' bootleg but it was a good time regardless
  25. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    Sound quality improved when they went to an FM sound transmission, so you could tune in on your car stereo.

    The only big one we had was in Franklin Wisc, The 41 Twin, actually had 2 gigantic screens and 2 smaller ones.

    41 Twin Outdoor Theatre in Franklin, WI - Cinema Treasures

    About 15 years ago it sold out all the land to an insurance company who built a massive complex on the land, so the land cost, short viewing season, home video, all killed it.

    Don't take this wrong, but I did notice an odd phenomenon the last 2 times I was there about 15 years back, near all the clientele were Hispanic with all their kids there, they would come early, grill out, play ball, it was a family thing for them, perhaps us white folks had already lost that family night thing? Just a thought.
    showtaper, Michael, Robert M. and 2 others like this.

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