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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 209 (198)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 209
Page 209


1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 209

Drive-In Theatres of the United States

Latest Available Data on Location, Ownership, Car Capacity, and Operating Policy Disclosed by Survey





After several years of continued growth, drive-in t h e a t r e s have emerged as an important, separate segment of the theatre industry. As a result, it has now become possible, and necessary, to accumulate definite industry statistics and records that will enable a correct evaluation of their individual drawing areas, their motion picture requirements, and their future growth. The accompanying survey drawn from a questiom naire conducted by the able Research Department of the [Motion Picture Association of America formalizes for the hrst time much helpful data. This is a start. Continuing work of refinement and research will produce the maximum accuracy in future reprints



In earlier issues of THEATRE CATALOG, the total number of open and oper Number and Car Capacity

ating drive-in theatres in the United States has been variously estimated up to a maximum of about 300 at the end of 1947. Predominantly this number resulted from an inspection of different companies files and records without the facilities for cross checking and pin pointing for complete accuracy.

It was a known fact that due to war time and immediate post-war restrictions on new construction and due to the high prices of all structural materials, many of these were small and relatively makeshift efforts. The in-car speaker and the important confection vending had created wide interest and made development possible, but actual progress was slow. Not until the fall of 1947 and the spring of 1948 did the real growth materialize. During this period more and larger drive-in enterprises were completed and opened than previously existed. Some were deluxe operations costing $350,000.00 to $400,000.00 for 700 to 800 car capacities; and a few dual or twin theatres offered accome modations to as many as 2000 cars.

of OPEN AND CLOSED

Drive-In Theatres in the United States. by Exchange Territory

Number of Theatres

Car Capacity

Open Closed* Total







Territor 0 en Closed* Total Albany . . . . . . . . p 17 . 17 6,525 . . 6,525

Atlanta . . . . . . . . . 50 1 51 18,498 1.50 18,648

Boston . . . . . . . . . . 24 5 29 9,900 825 10,725

Buffalo . . . . . . . . . 16 1 17 8,241 500 8,741

Charlotte . . . . . . . 107 1 108 23,444 200 23,644

Chicago . . . . . . . . . 15 . . 15 11,930 . . 11,930

Cincinnati . . . . . . 53 2 55 21:2; 350 33,236

and . . . . . . . 51 . . 51 20, . . , 5

Shelltils . . . . . . . . . . 79 79 29,020 . . 29,020

Denver . . . . . . . . . 7 1 8 3,725 100 3,825 Des Moines . . . . . 5 5 3,024 . . 3,024 Detroit . . . . . . . . . 28 28 13,755 13,755 Indianapolis . . . . . 34 34 14,250 14,250 Kansas City . . .. . 19 . . 19 10,500 ' , . 10,500 Los Angeles . . . . . 19 2 21 12,056 1,050 13,106 Memphis . . . . . . . . 10 . . 10 4,053 . . 4,053 Milwaukee . . . . . . 2 2 1,554 1,554 Minneapolis . . . . . 4 4 1,850 1,850 New Haven . . . .. 5 5 2,150 2,150 New Orleans .. .. 16 16 6,129 6,129 New York . . . . . . 10 10 6,650 6,650 Oklahoma City .. 16 16 8,794 8,794 Omaha . . . . . . . . . 3 3 1,850 1,850 Philadelphia . . . . 12 12 5,344 5,344 Pittsburgh . . . . . . 39 39 16,494 16,494 Portland . . . . . . . . 5 5 2,800 2,800 St. Louis . . . . . . . . 12 12 4,940 4,940 Salt Lake City .. 26 26 11,179 11,179 San Francisco . .. 21 21 11,791 11,79] Seattle . . . . . . . . . 15 15 7,400 7,400 Washington . . . . . 28 28 11,626 11,626

Total . . . . . .. 748 13 761 311,203 3,175 314,378

* Only [It with a total capacity of 3175 (an rim-ragt- a] 241 can) tln' reported as having closed.

Better film supplies and earlier runs were solicited from the film distributors, backed by offers of high dollar and percentage rentals to the place where the industry as a whole realized that here was a husky, new, permanent facet of its entertainment outlet, 4and not just a passing and not very reputable fad.

Probably the equipment manufacturing fraternity was the first division of the industry to recognize the amazing growth of drive-in theatres; and to do something about it. Larger and heavier mechanisms, light sources and means of power supply were adopted or specially designed for their extreme needs. Underground cables were found and recommended; engineering services were offered; and much research was accomplished in the fields of cash control, screen towers, traffic control, lighting, confection vending, sound and fencing. All of this has resulted in making 1948 one of the best equipment sales years on record.

To satisfy membership inquiry, the important Motion Picture Association of America (better known as the ffJohnston Officell) during the months of July and August, 1948, launched, through their Research Department, a detailed statistical survey of the drive-in theatres then operating and in the aborning stage. Questionnaires were forwarded to the territorial offices of their seven distributor members and on the basis of general trade knowledge or actual interviews with owners, data was accumulated from each of the distribution areas. Carefully compiled and published to a selected trade list in September, 1948, a supplement was issued in October, 1948, and continuing periodic attention is planned.

Because the growth of drive-in theatre operation is continuing at the same accelerated pace in every nook and cranny of the country; and because exhibition policies and even car capacities and ownership are not static; much of the data here published may not be completely accurate and current for any great period of time. However, as the start, and as the first formalized knowledge of any kind, it has merit.

The data as to Hnumber of months open a year7 has been recorded, as shown on questionnaires, except that fractions of months have been raised to the next whole number. ifltrogram policy, and Hnumber of changes weekly" refer to the usual policy understood to be followed by each theatre at that time. Naturally, neither the Motion Picture Association, nor THEATRE CATALOG, in publishing this information accepts responsibility for, or warrants the accuracy of the data following. It is published as a guide only.

THEATRE CATALOG 1948-49
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 209