> > > >

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 498 (472)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 498
Page 498

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 498

average drive-in, even with its short daily and seasonal operation should equal the annual gross receipts for a moderatesized theatre with its longer daily and seasonal operation.

In some drive-in theatres the admission is actually higher than in competing houses, mainly because of the fact that people like to drive out in an evening and would not, anyway, go to the regular theatre.

While there is as much variation in actual tariffs at drive-in theatres, as there is with the regular cinemas, the tickets generally sell between 30 and 60 cents, with an average approximating 40 cents.

Except in the few states that enjoy warm winters, the drive-in theatre has a relatively short season, which, of course, restricts the theatres earning power correspondingly. Picture prcsentation can only be effected at night, so that the number of daily shows are limited.

Regular picture preSentation is also subject to weather conditions. Heavy rains and extreme high winds keep down patronage much more than they would in regular moving-picture houses.

Obviously, too, its geographical location is important, since, if the drive-inls operating season is exceptionally short, its chances of financial success are limited. The length of the operating season depends upon the geographical location and climatic conditions. In many of the southern states, such as California,

Florida, and parts of Texas, drive-in theatres may be operated from ten to twelve months of the year.

Drive-in theatres located in states north of the Mason-Dixon Line, however, have been pronounced financial successes. Northern states having drive-ins include Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. Although the length of the operating season in the northern states is limited by cold weather, it has been found that the northern theatres do a very intensive business during their operating season. The reason for this is that the people in the north are cooped up all winter, and during the warm months of the year they are extremely interested in any kind of sport or entertainment which is out in the open air.

Another aspect of drive-in operation is that of using it as a summer adjunct to a small wintertime house, under that particular condition where normal winter business can support a small house but so far as the house itself is concerned, the summer cannot. Then the drive-in, with its power to draw from a much greater radial distance, comes into its own. Indeed, one theatreman has gone so far as to shift his first-runs to his drivein and to close down the regular house, thus doing not only more business, but saving an air-conditioning installation on his enclosed theatre!

THE ORIGINAL "FLOOR PLAN" better shows the area set aside as a sitting space, and shows also additional space, space provided for parking cars within the ibealre's acreage. The arrows on the diagram, after the original patent, indicate the flow of traffic over various parts of the Iheofre. While modern architects have improved on the actual layout, and added other attractions to the theatre, the basic Hollingshead idea is still good.


THE DRIVE-IN THEATRE SITE The amount of land required depends on a number of factors, including (1) car capacity desired, which governs the number of ramps needed, (2) size and location of screen tower, and (3) proximity of the entrance to the highway. Some idea of the acreage required may be gained by the fact that a theatre of three to four hundred cars can be built on five to six acres, while one with five to six hundred cars would require eight to ten acres.

Location of a Drive-In Theatre

In the design of a drive-in theatre, the selection of the site is of utmost importance, as success or failure of the project hinges upon the theatre being properly located.

Accessibility to well-traveled highways must be placed at the head of the list for the same reason that indoor theatres are located where the traffic is heaviest. It has been found from experience that the best type of highway on which to construct a drive-in theatre is what is usually termed the iffioatingl) or local highway as contrasted to the "express" or through traffic road. This type of highway is usually dotted with refreshment stands, night spots, and other local activity which influence patronage.

If the terrain of the site is level, much will be saved from the rather expensive grading cost. If the lot is much lower than the adjoining highways, its poor drainage must be corrected by fill-ins which could be costly.

Unless a suitable drainage system is provided, the parking area may become a mire during heavy rains, making it difficult to handle the movement of cars. If the site is sufficiently close to city water and sewer systems, the cost of sinking wells and constructing cesspools can be entirely eliminated. It is far better to pay a little more for a properly located, level, well-drained tract of land than one lacking one or more of these important qualifications.

If they are not available, a well would have to be drilled to supply water and a cesspool or other type of septic tank for sewage disposal.

There are certain costs of improving the land itself which would not appear in the costs of construction of an indoor theatre. The most important of these costs are the construction of earthen ramps, grading, driveway construction, drainage, landscaping, and fencing. Obviously, rocky, uneven ground would add materially to the expense of the ramp construction. In fact, such terrain could conceivably cause expense which would make the project an unprofitable Venture. Careful consideration of these costs should be made before purchase of the site is effected. '

And, of course, there is another charge which should not be forgotten. That is the royalty on ramp construction, held under the terms of United States Patent 1,909,537, issued May 16, 1933, to Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr., of Riverton, New Jersey. As a result of the subsequent. assignment, the Park-In Theatres, Inc., grants licenses on the basis of 81,000 down for an exclusive territory, plus a royalty of 5 percent of the boxofiice receipts after deduction of admission taxes. For the fee, the prospective

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 498