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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 266 (255)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 266
Page 266

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 266

Planning the Drive-In Theatre

Considerations of Function and Equipment That Make Careful Engineering and Supervision Important

As chief engineer for the company which originally conceived the idea of an open air drive-in theatre many years ago and holds several basic ramp patents, Mr. Taylor has actively participated in the planning of more than 300 of these theatres, so his views have considerable merit. Numerous of his references to specific structures or areas have been developed in greater detail in this current and in past editions of THEATRE CATALOG. This is a coordinating survey, however, that may serve to tie in many loose ends for the owner or architect who is debating the entry into the drive-in field.

A Family Theatre

No matter what the Drive-In Theatre started out to be, it has become a family institution and a typical American one. With the advent of high wages, and the family car, the re-establishment of the family unit rather than the Hdoubling-up with inlaws" of wartime, the passing of servants, and the expense of baby sitters, the American family has taken to the drive-in theatre as the proverbial duck to water. Seventy to eighty per cent of the business of any drive-in is family trade that tosses the children into the car. Even the baby can be taken alongasince most well regulated driveins will provide free bottle warming service. Playgrounds for the small fry will pay dividends by assuring an early crowd for the first show. Pa and Ma do not have to dress apathey can relax and smokeiand invalid itAunt Mary", who has not been out of the house for years except for an auto ride, can be driven

right into the theatre and enjoy the show.

The exhibitor who loses sight of the family nature of his trade will miss fire. His pictures must, of course, be of high calibre. He must admit children under a certain age free. His programs must be attractive to and fit for older children. His place of business must be well policed and regulated.

Much of Audience New

Indoor exhibitors who have gone. into the drive-in field have discovered that much of their audience was new, and therefore the new vehicle did not coni[M'tt' too seriously with the indoor shows. Children (lid not keep parents out of their automobiles, but did keep them from their favorite pastimeathe movies. Mr. Hollingsheadls ramp patent No.


By S. HERBERT TAYLOR, Chief Engineer Engineering Depl., ParkJn Theatre: (50., Camden, N. J.

1,909,537 was the first successful effort to combine those two Americans favorites, the family car and the movies. Through it has been opened to hundreds of thousands of American families entertainment facilities previously denied them. Anyone conversant with type of patronage and the tremendous growth in the field can testify to this.

Concession Business Important

Because of the nature of its clientele a drive-in cannot sell liquor; but the sale of non-alcoholic beverages, sandwiches, hot dogs, ice cream, etc., makes up an impressive percentage of the total income. The practice of handling this business through concessionaires is so universal, that the food and drink stand has come to be commonly called the concession stand. It should be carefully located near the population center of the theatre.

Size of Theatre

The size a drive-in should be is dictated by the surrounding population and the number of drive-ins already existent or potentially existent in the area. W. W. Smith and V. C. Smith, of Park-In The atres, because of their experience in loeating literally hundreds of theatres are eminently qualified to advise in this regard.

In actual area a 500 car theatre will cover approximately six and one-half acres, a 1000 car theatre twelve and onehalf acres. This is the actual area of the ramps, the driveways, screen, etc., Squared up, the form in which such a site must usually be purchased, the areas are approximately sixty percent greater. This means that for 500 cars, a total of ten acres must usually be purchased; for 1000 cars, twenty acres. The additional ground provides room for landscaping, playgrounds, other entertainment features, and future development. Some owners prefer even larger tracts, particularly where the increased acreage can be obtained at a much lower cost, as is often the case. This latter will also provide insurance against fu ture encroachment, particularly on the highway side, of some objectionable satellite business.

Selection of Site

A low, hat piece of land can often be purchased for a small sum but the necessity to obtain drainage may increase

grading costs from four to ten times,

normal. A flat piece of land with adequate drainage, even if the pitch be

(FIG. 1) Patrons in the back seat need only move slightly to the right or left in order to see between or around their friends in from. or such other obstructions as windshield dividing bars and mirrors. Careful engineering of the ramp inclines permits each driver to aim his car.
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 266