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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 194 (174)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 194
Page 194

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 194

The Martin Prefab Drive-In Plan

How a Southern Circuit Produced and Constructed An Amazing Total of 20 Complete Units in a Few Months

When drive-ins really became popular shortly after the end of World War II, We built outdoor theatres in the larger towns in the areas where the Martin circuit operates. It was originally estimated by exhibitors throughout the country that it would take a town with about 100,000 people or more in a trade territory to support a drive-in, but these estimates began to drop rapidly down to 50,000, then 40,000, and finally 25,000.

After our construction plans had been completed for the larger towns, it even became apparent that drive-ins could be operated successfully in towns of less than 25,000 population, provided the costs of construction were greatly reduced. In


General Manager. Martin Theatres. Inc.

the light of this new line of thinking, we were confronted with the problem of building 20 more smaller drive-ins near towns where we already had established indoor theatres. Our original drive-ins had been built on an individual basis and cost from $200.00 to $400.00 per car, so we knew that the completion of 20 more on the same basis would entail a long, drawn-out, expensive construction program. Our aim was to build drive-ins in the smaller towns with a capacity of 300 to 500 cars, not as show PLAN OF THE CONFECTION AREA fits well into the necessary Proiection and Toilet Room areas. All share a common root and are equipped with adequate storage spaces. Accent is on functional use and economy.

cases, but as good functional theatres, properly engineered and well equipped, but without unnecessary frills and expensive construction.

The Prefab Plan Is Born

Our designer, R. E. Bland, conceived the idea of setting up a prefabrication plant to prefabricate all the buildings of the drive-ins and some of the equipment in accordance with one set pattern. Acting on his suggestion, our real estate department was instructed to acquire the necessary property in each town and run topographical surveys while the prefabrication plant was being tooled up. The tooling-up process, which took about one month, followed designs laid out by Bland. Luckily, we owned an old cotton mill in Phenix City, Ala., which contained approximately 40,000 sq. ft. of empty door space and served our purpose perfectly. '

Although our immediate requirements were for only 20 drive-ins, we planned to run through five lispares," or a total of 25; it was thought that the extra five might later be installed in other towns, where the advisability of building driveins had not yet been fully determined, or erected as second outdoor theatres in some of the larger towns where we already had one.

General Plant Operations

Detailed engineering drawings for each drive-in, taking into consideration such factors as terrain, highway approaches, etc., were made, and from these plans were set up saws, drills, and jigs with which materials could be cut all the same size, put together in panels, and num

BRIEF: Incredible though it may seem, Martin Theatres, Inc. . . . a well-known circuit operating 130 theatres . . . located in, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee . . . of which 33 are

drive-ins . . . developed and put into operation . . . durng 1950 . . . an ingenious plan whereby they were able to turn out . . . and erect . . . 20 fully

equipped drive-ins in a matter of weeks. Nearly every type of building and

accessory . . . from boxohices to ramp markers . . . were prefabricated in a special plant . . . closed down after it

had served its purpose . . . In addition to the 20 outdoor theatres actually put up, five ttsparesii were also produced . . . with an eye to future installations . . . Crews . . . especially trained for their respective functions . . . erected the prefab drive-ins with phenomenal rapidity.

The text below relates how the idea came into being . . . plant operations . . . the design of specific parts . . . and the novel erection process.

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 194