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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 204 (184)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 204
Page 204

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 204

1950-51 Review of New Drive-In Construction

A Pictorial Survey of Design and Other Features Apparent in New Drive-Ins Which Opened Recently

BRIEF: The drive-in construction boom has been temporarily halted . . . but only due to the exigencies of the defense program . . . at a healthy total of 2,703 . . . according to all data available to the Editors of THEATRE CATALOG.

This represents an increase of 950 over last season . . . and the end does not appear to be yet'in sight . . . There is every indication that the 3,000 mark will be surpassed . . . once building restrictions are lifted.

Shown on the following pages is a cross-section of these new drive-ins . . . carefully chosen by the Editors for their construction merits . . . Each of the 20 indicates the progress which has been made in the field . . . an increasingly important segment of the theatre industry.

Fully established as permanent and important fixtures on the American entertainment scene, the approximately 2,703 drive-in theatres currently in operation throughout the United States have long since discarded the apparel of novelty to become an institution as accepted as baseball. The parallel between these two forms of amusement may be'extended further when one stops to consider that both of them owe their success mainly to the fact that they appeal to people of all ages, both male and female. In short, drivesin theatres and baseball have one outstanding similarity-they are both family institutions.

As outdoor theatre owners and operators have become increasingly conscious of the fact that the American family, including everyone from Grandpa to Baby, constitute their real life blood, they have expended constantly broadens ing efforts to cater to this select clientele in every way imaginable. Many theatres now furnish bottle-warming services for babies, recreation areas for children, and such conveniences as in-car heaters and air-conditioned ramp houses for their elders.

Drive-ins have been able to attract family patronage not only because of the special services they feature, but also because of the natural advantages which they can offer. The vast majority of outdoor theatremen have been quick to recognize and advertise widely such assets as patrons dressing as they please, smoking in cars, no need for baby sitters, a guaranteed parking place for the car, etc. The most successful drive-ins are those which have exploited such points of appeal and, at the same time, operated a clean and orderly enterprise in pleasant surroundings.

Before the National Production Authority issued its Order M4 on October

16, 1950, prohibiting all further new drive-in as well as roofed theatre construction, some 950 new outdoor theatres had been built during the past season. They were, for the most part, firstclass structures which, along with their predecessors, have been able to obtain better film clearances as the industry has

come to recognize their importance in the exhibition field.

The new drive-ins depicted on the following pages have been carefully selected for presentation by a qualified staff of experts. Like the roofed theatres treated elsewhere in this volume, some will be the recipients of the Merit Award plaque, awarded anually by the Editors of THEATRE CATALOG and the PHYSICAL THEATRE Department of its sister pubication EXHIBITOR, to those theatres which represent the finest in construction excellence, layout, and scientific planning in relation to the patronage served; seven drive-ins appearing in the 1949-50 Edition of THEATRE CATALOG were so honored.

The 20 theatres pictorially reviewed here have an average car capacity of 700 and cover 12 states. This would appear to indicate that some of the best drive-ins are found in the medium-size class, for only one of the following has a car capacity in excess of 1,000. Furthermore, many of them have been built with a relatively modest budget, but skillful planning and use of materials have enabled them to meet the high standards of excellence which governed their selection for inclusion in this survey.

As the reader leafs through the pictorial panorama of the finest in recent drive-in theatre construction which follows, he may well note certain characteristics that mark them. Some of these drive-ins have perhaps only a few special features, above and beyond excellence in general construction, while others may have more, but all of them have at least one or two notable points of appeal

directly aimed at attracting family patronage.

First of all, in recognition of the important role which the younger generation plays in the success of any drivesin operation, many of the new theatres have recreation areas for children with either simple playground equipment, mechanized or pony rides, or a combination of both, which is frequently the case.

Secondly, in deference to the eyecatching appeal of landscaping, drive-in operators appear to be paying more and more attention to the creation of spacious lawn areas and the cultivation of appropriate shrubbery and other forms of horticulture that lend visual beauty to the theatre site.

Thirdly, although the greatest number of new drive-ins seem to be located some distance away from the hearts of nearby cities or towns, a good many of them have made ample provisions for walk-in patrons by setting up special chairs for their use. It would appear that this is an attempt to attract the patronage of nearby residents in these suburban areas who might well not be bothered to roll the family jalopy out of the garage. Likewise, some patrons who do come in cars prefer to sit outside to Watch the show.

Other features worth noting are: large and boldly lighted sign and attraction boards; de luxe refreshment stands; living quarters for managers or caretakers in some screen towers; spacious holdout areas; extensive use of ornamental fencing; frequency with which rest rooms, refreshment stands, and sometimes projection booths, are combined under one roof; common installation of a picture window in concession area so patrons may continue to watch the show while making purchases and the patio with chairs in front for their relaxation while eating; and the multiplicity of extra services provided, ranging from windshield wiping to special telephone facilities for doctors and nurses.


California, San Francisco, Geneva . . 200 California, Visalia, Sequoia . . . . . . . . 200 California, Woodland, Sunset . . . . .. 214 Illinois, Canton, Hillcrest . . . . . . . . . . 216 Illinois, Centralia, Centralia . . . . . .. 208 Kentucky, Bowling Green, Lost River 21?. Kentucky, Carrollton, Riverview 192 Kentucky, Louisville, Twin . . . . . . . . 185 Louisiana, Thibodaux, Colonial 219 Michigan, Caro, Caro . . . . . . . .1 . . . . 204

Missouri, Mexico, Little Dixie Airway 194 New Jersey, Eatontown, Eatontown 202 New Jersey, Pleasantville, Atlantic. 188 Oklahoma, Woodward, Terrytime . . 210

Pennsylvania, Espy, Family . . . . . .. 220 Tennessee, Nashville, Colonial ..... 217 Texas, Beaumont, Pyramid . . . . . . .. 198 Texas, Dallas, JciTerson . . . . . . . . .. 218 Texas, Ft. Worth, Cowtown . . . . . . . . 190

Wisconsin, Kenosha, Keno Family. . 196

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 204