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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 234 (200)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 234
Page 234

Drive-ins Mentioned

Chief Drive-In Theater, Austin, TX

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 234

Drive-In Concerts for Prestige and Profit

Special Afternoon Shows Can Bring Extra Dollars And Make the Outdoor Theatre a Cultural Center

Traditionally, Americans like their entertainment on the informal side. For this reason, anything smacking of foulture," unless it is presented in an informal atmosphere, usually fails to attract mass audiences. On the other hand, fine entertainment which often would be stigmatized as stodgy, formal and high-brow if presented in a concert hall, invariably meets with enthusiastic acceptance by the general public when offered in such pleasantly informal settings as open-air bowls and amphitheatres.

BRIEF: Drive-in theatres . . . providing an informal and uniquely comfortable atmosphere . . . seem ideally suited to the presentation of afternoon symphony concerts. While outdoor exhibitors have long recognized the advantages of lending their facilities for various types of local activities, few of them have explored the opportunity to garner additional prestige and profit to be ohered by turning the drive-in into a concert iihallii for one afternoon a week. The experience of one outdoor theatre . . . the Chief Drive-In, Austin, Tex. . . . in presenting the worldis first drive-in symphony concert, indicates that such programs . . . possibly as a regular policy . . . would be popularly acclaimed almost anywhere. The tangible 'rewards to be had by extending the operation of the theatre into the daylight hours . . . and the prestige and community goodwill that would most certainly result . . . make afternoon symphony concerts at the drive-in an idea meriting serious consideration.


The increasing popularity of the drivein theatre certainly is proof of the importance of informality in the presentation of entertainment, for much of its drawing power lies in the fact that patrons can come as they are without bothering to dress as formally as they would to attend a movie in town. This, of course, in addition to the elimination of the parking and baby sitter problems.

It would seem that drive-in theatres are the ideal settings for the presentation of afternoon concerts and recitals, and that such a combination of "culturel' and informality could pay off handsomely in prestige as well as immediate boxofiice returns.

Drive-in owners have long realized the fact that it pays to cultivate community goodwill by offering the facilities of their theatre for such things as church services, graduation exercises, and various other local activities. Moreover, they have learned how to get the most from their investment by extending the operating period of the theatre with many live attractions during daylight hours.

By presenting high class musical entertainment such as symphonies and even operas at their theatres they could capitalize on the community goodwill that would result from their making available such outstanding cultural events to great masses of people, they would get greater returns from their investment by extending the operating period into the daylight hours, and would add immeasurably to the driveinis prestige by instituting such quality programs and attracting a new audience of music lovers.

While a symphony concert or a recital ,

at the drive-in would bring many regular outdoor theatre patrons who have never been to a concert hall or opera house, it would also certainly attract many opera goers and symphony devotees who have never before visited a drive-in theatre. It is conceivable that many of this latter group will become part of the theatres regular patronage at movie performances also, once they are introduced to the many unique provisions for their comfort and enjoyment that the drive-in offers.

Although the presentation of afternoon symphonies and operas would provide the ultimate in prestige, there is no reason why other types of musical programs could not be presented just as profitably. Local singing groups, high school bands and orchestras, choral societies, and various types of amateur

entertainers could be engaged to make up a full season of Saturday or Sunday afternoon shows. Depending on the type of entertainment, some of the shows could be run on a benefit basis, some on percentage. Amateur entertainers could compete for prizes promoted from local merchants.

Regardless of what percentage 3f the boxomce returns the drive-in owner receiveseeven if he schedules a show on a benefit basis and receives none of the gate*he stands to make a considerable profit on the sale of refreshments, especially on warm'summer days when the demand for soft drinks and ice cream alone would be sumcient reason to operate the' theatres refreshment facilities during the day.

The idea for the worlds first drive-in symphony concert must be credited to Aaron Kruger, member of the board of directors of the Austin Symphony. While discussing the ways and means of bringing more symphonic music to a wider audience, Kruger suggested to Ezra. Rachlin, musical director of the Austin Symphony, that the Chief, an 814-car drive-in operated by Claude Ezell and Associates in Austin, Tex., would be the ideal spot for concerts.

In keeping with the informality of the Southwest, it was reasoned, these concerts could easily be presented out of doors, Within ready accessibility to everyone. Whole families could attend,

THE ADVERTISING THEME was for iron: highbrow and was directed at the potential mass audience rather than the lorgnelte or carriage trade. The accompanying cartoon was used in advance. and on the program.

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 234