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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 201 (181)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 201
Page 201

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 201

A Mobile Outdoor Theatre Circuit

Portable Power Units Supply All of the Operating

Requirements of Three Theatres in Minnesota WOods

BRIEF: Everyone knows the old tale of how the mountain came to Mohammet . . . but relatively few know the inside story of how drive-in movies are brought to patrons in the midst of a thick woods . . . This modern miracle . . . incredible though it may seem . . . has, however, been accomplished effectively by an enterprising Minnesota exhibitor.

Here . in brief . . is the true account of a wondrous theatre circuit on wheels . . . which burrows deep into the forest primeval six nights a week . . . with full equipment in tow . . . to link the throbbing heartbeat of Hollywood to the still of the pines.

The pine-decked, lake-studded region between Mille Lacs and Leech lakes in northern Minnesota is known as The Long Pine Playground Area. The quiet Woods and placid lakes draw many thousands of pleasure-seekers from every part of the United States during the summer months. Fishing, boating, swimming, and games like tennis or shuffleboard form the major pastimes.

An Idea Is Born

In 1948, however, something new came to this famous resort region. John Rohr, owner of the Marlow Theatre at Pine River, correctly surmised that vacationers also like to see a movie show now and then to relax from the rigors of a days fishing or playing, or when the weather may be ffoff key." But since many of the lake resorts or private camps are too far from local theatres such as his, he figured that motion picture shows should be closer to the resorts. Thus Rohr did the unusual, formed his own drive-in circuit, and brought shows to the woods with outstanding success.

He set up the Marlow Mobil-in Circuit, composed of three outdoor theatres, each located in the midst of the most densely populated resort areas. The first unit was opened June 17, 1948, at Cross Lake, and became an immediate success. In July and August of the same year, he completed two others*at Longville, and at a point midway between Backus and Hackonsack.

Unique Aspects

The Marlow Mobil-ins differ from orthodox drive-ins in several respects. The major distinguishing feature lies in the fact that all the operating equipment (projectors, sound system, and even the power supply) is entirely mobile, so that it may be used at each of the three spots on different nights. Two different shows per Week are run at each location, with the entire circuit taking six dayseMonday through Saturday.

The Mobil-ins operated by Rohr differ also in appearances, for all of them are


placed in areas literally hacked out of the forest to lend a ruggedness in harmony with the resort atmosphere. At the Backus-Hackensack location, for example, the patron leaves the highway, buys his ticket, and drives approximately a fifth of a mile through dense pine forest. At the end is a clearing with rows of parking lanes for nearly 100 cars.

Rohris Mobil-ins are entirely the result of his own ingenuity. So far as is known, his Htheatre on wheels't is the first and only such set-up existing in the United States or Canada. The design of the project from the beginning gave both Rohr and his engineer-sound man, Elmer

MOTHER HOUSE of the mobile cirCuit is the rooted, SIG-seat Marlow Theatre at Pine River which renders an all-year service. Note from the map that the three drive-in theatres are situated 15 to 25 miles away and serve different areas.

Bloom, something to think about. There were lots of problems involved.

Solution of Power Problem

The most important element in the set-up is a dependable, inexpensive electric power supply, a major problem at the outset. First of all, the R.E.A. lines, on which most of the Mobil-ins were located (dependable as they are under difficult conditions), could not possibly guarantee uninterrupted service or con stant voltage. In the second place, any independent

power supply would have to be very mobile and trouble-proof, especially in view of the fact that a requirement of 10,000 watts was needed to run the show. Thus, after careful analysis of the situation, Rohr and Bloom concluded that the only solution was to produce their own power. One seasonis operation served to show the wisdom of this decision.

Although all of the equipment in the Mobil-in setup pulls a total of about 10,000 watts, two Onan 3,000-Watt portable generating plants fulfill all requirements by clever figuring and staggering. The breakdown of wattage demands of the equipment is as follows:

Two Holmes projectors and Strong high-intensity lamps (4,000 watts); one Manley popcorn machine (3,000 watts); Operadio sound system and Jensen speaker, entrance lights and signs, parking lights, trailer lights, miscellaneous (approx. 3,000 watts).

Overloading of the two 3kw plants is prevented by staggering the various loads.

Transportation Equipment

The titheatre on wheels" consists of a small truck and a twmwheel aluminum trailer. The truck serves three purposes
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 201