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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 190 (156)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 190
Page 190

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 190

What Makes a Drive-In Successful?

Ranking with the Nations Top Outdoor Theatres, The Gratiot Drive-In Proves It Knows the Answer

Is it a good location and physical attractiveness that make a drive-in successful? Is it careful management, an eiiicient staff, and well planned promotional activities that spell the diderence between consistently healthy grosses and mere marginal operation?

Experience has shown that it takes all of these features plus many others to insure continued, long-range drive-in profits. The Gratiot Drive-In at Gratiot, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, one of the

BRIEF: Associated Theatres, Gratiot Drive-In . . . one of the nationis better known, efficiently operated, and outstandingly successful outdoor theatres . . . is a model of good management . . . The Gratiot has demonstrated . . . in its five years of operation . . . that regard for patrons? comfort . . . and heads-up service . . . in combination with excellent facilities . . . is the formula for continued success. This article serves to set forth that formula in detail so that it may be studied . . . and applied . . . to bring bigger dividends elsewhere.

* countryis better known, outstandingly successful outdoor theatres, is a. good case in point.

Now in its fifth year of operation, the Gratiot Drive-In combines several new and unique features in modern drive-in design with high quality service to

attract patrons to the boxoiiice, and keep them coming back. The Gratiot is essentially a drive-in theatre, and not a multipurpose recreation project despite its 21 acres and a development cost estimated at $1,000,000. Everything has been built with the primary purpose of giving patrons the opportunity to enjoy an open air screen performance under the optimum conditions. This is the key to its success.

There are two principal secondary operations at the theatre, each built around the main objective. They are the children's play area and the concession service, which have been operated in such a way as to underline their value as exclusive drive-in features.


In overall design, the Gratiot is unique in its use of a triple cascade screen tower motif, set back a considerable distance from the highway so that it easily catches the eye of all passersby. This is a 115-foot tower, squared off at the top, where the theatre sign is positioned. Actual waterfalls are used, with water pumped to the top of the cascade by a 60-horsepower motor-driven pump and flowing over a tiered copper sheeting. The entire face of the cascade is illuminated from below in a multi-colored pattern which gives a striking effect at night. The waterfall has become the keynote of the theatre, and is being used almost as a trademark in the Gratiotls advertising.

Just past the tower are two boxoiiices, with six-car entrances leading 01? two different highways. From this point, patrons drive around an oxbow-like entry which holds 600 cars and corresponds to the lobby of a roofed theatre, and move up to the point of entry at the first ramps. This "lobby" is an important safety factor in that it elimie nates the dangerous traffic congestion on highway approaches which has caused many drive-ins to be regarded as public nuisances. Patrons wait inside the theatre to get onto the highway, rather than block the highway with a waiting line. In addition, by using the "lobby" upon entering the theatre grounds, patrons are not discouraged from attending by having to wait in long lines of cars, such as form at many other drive-ins.

Skirting the entrance lanes are low white fences which are well lighted as a safety measure, and which are an additional factor in the attractiveness of the entrance.

The two boxofiices are joined by an overhead balcony, and the appearance is that of a solid building entrance. What may be called the ufront stage" architecture is beautifully set off with appropriate landscaping * large, wellkept lawns and several beds of flowers. A great deal of attention is given to the maintenance of the Gratiot's landscaping. The gas is frequently cut and watered to keep it fresh and cool. looking, and the plants have been carefully chosen so that there is a continuous

PICTURES ARE IMPORTANT. but there is a great deal of Showmanship and management that is even more important. in building the "Wunt-lo-go-see" and "Wunt-lo-go-ugain" that continues to make drive-ins America's favorite outdoor entertainment. Pictured here is the dramatic night lighting cmd Sign work.


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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 190