Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie (2013) Movie Script

-The show starts in two minutes. [ Old-time instrumental music
plays ] [ Rock music plays ] -The drive-in
is a holy American icon. It's actually a phenomenon. -My earliest memories
of the drive-in really had nothing to do
with movies. It really had to do
with being at the drive-in. -They were heavily teenaged, but there were also
young families. -There wasn't internet,
there wasn't computers, and there wasn't the television. -The drive-in sort of came
out of this car culture, this time where we were trying
to do everything in a car, to be able to eat in your car, and then to be able
to watch a movie from your car. And the drive-in kind of married
Hollywood and cars, that post-war euphoria
of optimism. -There's something
about going to the drive-in. Being outside
with a group of people really makes a difference
than just regular moviegoing. -By 1958, there was almost
5,000 drive-ins in the country. -They are becoming
harder and harder to find. You know, what happened
to all the drive-ins? -They get plowed under.
Something gets built over it. And after five years, people have forgotten
what was there before. -Walmarts were buying
the properties and whatnot. -Developers would come in, and they'd say
to a drive-in owner, "I'll give you $500,000
for your property." -If you go by there, you'll see
the ghosts of the place, the way it was, and I don't even need
to see a picture of it. The memories of the place
are still there. -Maybe some of this
really could make a difference if people looked at this and said,
"Hey, what did happen?" [ Old-time movie
instrumental music plays ] -More than 70 million people
in the United States go to the movies each week
to get away from their cares and to find entertainment
and thrills on the magic screen. -In the '30s, which was the height
of the big studio system, the moviegoing experience
was like a night in the theater. Really gave the ordinary citizen
the feeling that they were in a palace. Beautiful seats
and a large stage that could be used for musical productions before
or after the film. All through the 1930s
and into the '50s, when people went out
to the movies, American society
was a little bit more formal, so people would dress up. When you see pictures of audiences
in those earlier decades, they are very formally dressed. - Take me to the drive-in
picture show When I'm with you,
that's where I want to go With the stars above,
we fell in love At the... -Richard Hollingshead Jr.
decided to put a sheet up
between some trees and bring the projector outside
and screen some movies. -My dad -- he put a Model "A"
Ford on our driveway, put a projector on the hood,
and put a screen on the tree. -He decided
to start tinkering around with different ways
of placing cars and eventually became what we consider
the ramp car system now, where cars would
pull up on a ramp. He placed several cars on blocks
to raise them -- the front of the car,
up and down. -When they first built them, they had a fixed ramp
in front of a bulkhead. You couldn't drive over it. -I believe he originally did it
for his mother. -My grandmother Donna
is the one that started it. She was a big woman --
6 foot tall. She couldn't fit in the seat. [ Laughter ] -It grew
and started charging admission and eventually had to move
out of the yard and to a separate location. -The first drive-in theater
opened in Camden, New Jersey,
on June 6, 1933. -And at that time, they were charging
25 cents a carload. -The idea went over quite well. They started springing up
around the country. The drive-ins were supposed
to be paying royalty fees to what was then known
as Park-in Theatres Corporation, though a lot of drive-ins
didn't. -Wilson Shankweiler
took four acres of land and made
Shankweiler's Auto Park, which opened in 1934. He actually paid Hollingshead
2 cents per patron. And he had
two very loud speakers. You could wake up
the neighborhood. -I'm sure
that ultimately became a problem with people hearing the movie
who weren't watching the movie. -The Pico drive-in -- they had speakers mounted in front of where you would
pull your car up to. -Back when drive-ins
first started, they didn't have names. Back then,
they were just "drive-in." [ Mid-tempo rock music plays ] -By 1942, around the start
of World War II, there were about 100 drive-in
theaters in the country, and that stayed that way
pretty much throughout the war. -Fire. -After World War II,
the troops were coming home. The economy's up. People were buying cars again. - Got me a new car It's a Cadillac
Coupe de Ville -World War II -- a lot of shortages
of rubber and fuel. So families didn't have
the resources, if they had a car,
to keep it running. After World War II,
all of that changed. The car became kind of a symbol
of post-war freedom. [ Bluesy rock music plays ] - It takes more than money - More than money - Keep a man warm at night - Takes more than money - More than money -After World War II,
after the belt tightening, families can be on the move
much more easily. First of all, they were moving
into newly developed suburbs. -Like so many people these days,
we live in the suburbs. -The suburbs. 1/5 of America,
over 32 million people, now live in the suburbs, and 1.25 million more
are moving in each year. -Before the expansion
of the suburbs, with all of the government
funding from the G.I. Bill, people tended to live in cities
that were often very cramped. So a lot of public investment went into the development
of suburban life. -Now they lived in neighborhoods where kids walked to school
or they went to the P.T.A. You know, very homogeneous,
suburban kind of situations. - Goin' to the drive-in -The drive-in
was really a family event. - Ooh, ah Goin' to the drive-in -We'd get in the back of the car
or the back of a pickup truck. -I got to sit in the back in the seats that fold down
into the floor. I thought that was cool. -I think a lot of it
was convenience. You could take your kids. You can put them
in their jammies. You didn't need
to get a babysitter. -My mom and dad did what I do
with my girls right now. They'd throw us in our pajamas. -Wearing pajamas
to see the movie. -You can throw some pillows
or a sleeping bag in the car. You could all be together. They fall asleep, usually before
the second movie even starts. -Of course, we saw the Disney
movies as little kids. -A lot of times, it wouldn't be a movie
that we'd be interested in, but it was still,
"Ooh, the drive-in!" -As a little kid, you'd look up
at the huge movie screen, and it's bigger
than life itself. -It was a big event
to go to the drive-in. It was an important night. -Anything that catered
to families was a very, very big component
of the drive-in. -The playground was, like, the most important part
of the drive-in experience when I was a kid. -They wanted families
to come in early and to have something
for the kids to do. -It would have been considered
much more safe to just send kids
to the playground nearby and watch the movie. -It was a family thing. They let the kids run around
and play on the playground and the train rides
and everything. It was fun. It was fun. -They could get anything from being, like,
a park playground, which would be
a simpler playground. -Merry-go-rounds, clowns, eventually go-kart tracks,
bumper boats. -How we ever did it then,
I'd never know, because the liability today
would kill you. -The drive-ins
that had miniature golf courses. There are some
that had train rides and other things for kids. It makes the drive-in a whole
entertainment experience. -The Algiers had a fire engine. I think the Wayne had boats. All of the drive-ins
had something. -It was a circus-like atmosphere that you just didn't get
at an indoor theater. -Every drive-in was,
at one point, out on the outskirts. -They were out
in country pastures, several miles outside of town. -Probably the absolute
cheapest land possible. -A lot of the land
that would have been used would have been farmland. -Our little drive-in
in my hometown was out in the middle
of a cow pasture, basically. You know, it wasn't paved. It was very low-tech, even by the standards
of the day. -They were placed in areas that were still, at that time,
somewhat rural, before the suburbs were
as built out as they are now. -Eventually,
when drive-ins started to sprout up all over the place, you couldn't just have everybody
called the drive-in theater, 'cause then which one
are you talking about? So they would start naming them after whatever road
they were on. -You would have
a lot of highway 39s, a route-66 drive-in,
or a city that they were in. -There are a handful of, like,
maybe 15 to 20 really common drive-in names. -Starlite drive-in was probably
the most popular name. -"Sky View," "Skyline." You know, there's a whole series
of "skies." -The Starlite drive-in
and the Moonlight drive-in and the Stardust drive-in. -With the occasional
creative names. We had a theater
in Beaumont, California, called the Cherry Pass. Now, I don't know how
Bengies drive-in got its name, other than it's sort of
a cute-sounding '50s name. -The name of the area
is Bengies -- Bengies, Maryland,
at one time it was known. There's still remnants
of Bengies, Maryland. -When they opened, it was rural, and you'd be going
down highway 32 and drive for half an hour, and so it would be
a little adventure to go out into this rural area and have a gigantic,
drive-in movie theater. [ Old-time movie
instrumental music plays ] - Drive-in movie Sure sounds groovy Take me to a... -Originally, drive-in-movie-theater screens
were wood. -Wood frame. The screen is actually
a corrugated metal. -They attach a facing
that is galvanized steel. -Painted with
a reflective paint. -The most complex mechanism
of building a drive-in screen is actually building
the support. -The screen tower --
a lot of the early ones were made of wood, constructed on the ground,
usually, and then raised into place
with cranes. -It's a structure. It is actually a little house with a screen
on the front of it. -It slants down in the front
and has a storage room that we keep
all of our supplies in. -Wooden towers didn't handle
the winds too well. - ...Movie Sure sounds groovy -Subject to termites, gets blown down
in big wind storms. And at this point,
all of our screens have now been replaced
and are corrugated metal. -Some of the early drive-ins
were constructed with concrete blocks. Withstood the test of time,
for sure. -The standard aspect ratio
was 1:33. -And that was
what 35-millimeter film is. -So it was almost like a square. -I worked the projection,
the old-school way. Carbon arc projectors,
20-minute reels. -And it was truly an art form, running the projectors
with the carbon arc. The carbons actually created
a flame. It was very hot, very dangerous. The flame reflected the light
through a reflector and then out through the lens. -You just have to have
two projectors. You'd have your first reel
on one projector and your second reel
on the next projector. -Film reels were 20 minutes, and that is because of
the length of the carbon. You would have five to six reels
of film to make up one feature. At the end of every reel,
in the upper right-hand corner, there's what they call
changeover cues, and they
basically go unnoticeable, unless to the trained eye. On the second cue, you would actually do
the changeover with a foot pedal and an electric shutter
that simultaneously opened the shutter on the machine
you were going to start and close
the one that was running. -And that movie
would come back on. People wouldn't even know
it happened. -Of course, everyone remembers
the old speaker boxes that used to hang
on the car windows. -That's one thing that is, you know,
a great icon of the drive-in, is the drive-in theater speaker
that you hang on your window, and you don't drive away
while you're still connected. -In the ground,
they were laying this wire that coming up the poles
that carried the speakers. So you had all of that
as a component of construction. -And they put little down lights
so that you could see the poles. -The sound was confined
through the theater area. It just revolutionized sound
back then. A lot of drive-ins didn't pay
royalty fees. The ensuing court battle
proved futile. They started springing up
around the country. - There's a great drive-in
'bout a mile out of town Gonna be there with my baby
when the sun goes down One for the money,
two for the show We're hoppin' in my hot rod
to go, go, go, go Drivin' at the drive-in The hippies keep a-ridin' Feelin' good and groovin',
groovy like a movie Drivin'
at the drive-in tonight -Late 1940s, early 1950s,
the big thing of the time was to go into
the drive-in movie business. -Can't forget the marquee. That's definitely a lot
of drive-ins' claim to fame. [ Oldies music plays ] -It was hugely popular
in the 1950s. Marquees were made
mostly of neon. [ Music continues ] As a second marquee,
the back of the screen tower sometimes would have
moving artwork in neon. Something that would attract
your attention. - I feel all right Gonna go some more
next Saturday night Drivin' at the drive-in -Another aspect to that
is the murals. A lot of them had murals
on the back, a lot of neon. -As you're driving by,
all of a sudden, boom. "Ooh, look at that colorful
neon, you know, and it moves." And each drive-in would try
to outdo the other drive-in. [ Oldies music continues ] -They had
beautiful neon structures. Absolutely amazing. You know, wagon wheels turning,
like, old-west pioneer scenes. You know, there was one with the Spanish flamenco
dancers going like this. - Drive-in tonight Drivin' at the drive-in Drivin' at the drive-in -Indoor theater is two hours
on a Friday or Saturday night. The drive-in is what you do.
It's a commitment. You're gonna be there
all night long. -You never felt like
you were completely isolated, but you didn't feel like
in a regular movie theater, where everyone could see
what you were doing. You had that aspect of privacy
that was always a really nice feature
of the drive-in. -But then you also had
the larger experience of being out of your car
and almost part of this -- you know, for two hours,
this is your neighborhood. -You can have a meal
at a drive-in theater. They showed two movies. People will be there
for a long period of time. Between films,
you have an intermission, so people can go
to the snack bar. That's the source
of most of their income. -A lot of people don't realize that that's the business
of the drive-in, is actually the food and the atmosphere
and the experience, and not the tickets. -Drive-in theaters
probably would not have survived if was not
for the concession stand. -Soon as the credits
hit the screen, we turn the lights on,
and that lights the way for people to get
to the snack bar. -That's where the lifeblood
of the place really is, is the people
going to the snack bar. -We figured, if we're gonna have them there
as a captive audience, we've got to provide not
only food but good food. -Most drive-ins have hot dogs,
french fries. -Pizza, pizza!
Everybody loves pizza. -Shrimp dinners,
chicken dinners, barbecue sandwiches. -Soda -- pepsi, sprite, orange,
root beer, and grape. -Some sort of ice cream. -Grilled cheese, barbecued beef, all the way up
to the chilly dilly pickle. -Chocolate-covered dill pickles. -They're very, very happy to run
a trailer up on the screen to help entice the audience
to go buy refreshments. -Hurry, hurry, hurry. Step right over
to our refreshment center for the most extravagant array
of refreshment goodies ever assembled under one roof. -Intermission became the time to sell your popcorn,
your candy, your pizza, whatever. [ Spanish music plays ] -The countdown clock, which counts down
the intermission time, so you know
how much time you have to get your food
and get back to your car and not miss any of the movie. -This camera behind me is an
Oxberry master animation camera, which we have since
computerized, and we have shot
many, many drive-in trailers -- the "Let's All Go to the Lobby," the famous
dancing hot-dog trailer -- on this camera. - Let's all go to the lobby Let's all go to the lobby -Whenever you see
a drive-in clip in a movie or whatever
that everybody has, that's the most popular. - Sandy [ "Alone at a Drive-in Movie"
plays ] In "Grease," in particular, it's actually shown
on a 35-millimeter projector during the live production. -Oh, Sandy. -Motion-picture film production
came down in cost, and it was more advantageous to actually shoot 35-millimeter
in black and white. -And the luscious treasure of your favorite ice cream
as you like it. -And then eventually it led
to color in the '50s. -They're kind of quirky,
kitschy. -Cigarettes. Get the kind you prefer,
and enjoy them thoroughly. -And a lot of drive-ins
still show them. - Let's all go to the lobby To get ourselves a treat -The Remco Movieland drive-in
theatre is straight ahead! It looks terrific, Timmy. -Drive right in and park. Turn the film knob, and see
six exciting film features. -This Remco Movieland
drive-in theatre has everything! Its own giant screen... -Projection booth... -Marquee that changes... -Ticket window... -And six beautiful cars. -Remember, every boy
wants a Remco toy. -And so do girls. -People just started to love
the idea of going to a drive-in. -There was only a few shows
in town, literally. - ...Out of sight Ooh, ah We're goin' to the drive-in Ooh, ah Goin' to the drive-in You're cruisin'
for a bruisin' Even tryin' to sneak in That old man Jenkins
sure gets under my skin [ Singing indistinctly ] Call the cops,
have them throw away the key Ooh, ah Goin' to the drive-in Ooh, ah We're goin' to the drive-in [ Guitar solo ] -Once they knew they could draw
off of large populations, drive-ins got bigger and bigger. - At the end of the night,
we get a starry streak We all watched the movie,
and we thought it was great The movie was a thriller,
yeah, a really good fright... -The 41 Twin in Milwaukee was one of the largest drive-ins
in the country. It held about 2,000 cars. It was quite rare. A double screen, and you could actually drive
right through the screen tower. -Maybe it's just something about car culture
in the U.S. and Hollywood, and these things kind of jelled, and it was just
a very American thing. There are a couple spots around
the globe that have drive-ins, but it just wasn't
quite the same car culture in other countries. - Ooh, ah Goin' to the drive-in -Once they started
springing up everywhere, it got to the point
where a lot of drive-in theaters were competing
against each other. Sometimes they were
only separated by a few miles. -The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
area -- at one time,
there was bout seven drive-ins within a 10-mile radius. -The Milwaukee area had
the 15 Outdoor, the 59 Outdoor, the Franko 100,
the 41 Twin, the Starlite drive-in. -Within driving distance
at one time, there had to be
12 or 15 drive-ins, and they were all successful. It wasn't just one or two.
They were all successful. -By 1958, there was almost
5,000 drive-ins in the country. [ Mid-tempo music plays ] - Would you like
to go out with me? There's a movie
that I'm dying to see It's a sensation
that's sweeping the nation It's gonna be bigger
than a radio station Put a speaker
onto the driver's window That's the way
we will hear the show Have you ever heard
of such a crazy thing? Watching a movie
at a drive-in show Come with me,
and I'll take you there We'll have more fun
than at the old state fair We don't even need
to drive too far And when we get there,
we'll just stay in the car [ Instrumental solo ] -Another aspect of drive-ins
that never really took off was the autoscope drive-in. It was basically a central concession stand
with a projection room, and it would beam the movie up
into a series of mirrors, and it would reflect off
to individual screens that were usually like 3'x5'. And you'd actually pull
your car up in front of it. It was almost like pulling up
in front of a mini TV screen. Wisconsin had one
autoscope drive-in up in Marinette. It wasn't around very long. Trying to show
a movie in the fog with that kind of a theater -- they said it basically looked
like a giant U.F.O. had landed. -People just aren't
really used to the idea of how much traffic and how much noise
the drive-in actually generates. -People backed up for miles
in both directions, trying to get
into a 300-car drive-in. -My parents had
a big Pontiac Grand Ville, and it had a large trunk. -Sneaking into a drive-in
is almost a rite of passage. -We would go
up to the Baptist church, and we would throw the folks
in the back of the trunk. -We were the ones that invented
sneaking them into the trunk. These kids think
they just figured that out. -A lot of people
do sneak in the trunk. To this day, they still do it. -Of course that's not true, but people invented it
way before us, but we thought we invented it. -And I always asked, what was the first movie
playing? And that was a clue to the folks
in the back of the trunk to be quiet. -And the car is like this. You know,
it was like at an angle. -And we did this for years
and never got caught. -As much as
you're not supposed to do it, it's makes for great memories. -Hey! Look out! I feel like a meatball in here.
Whew! -Okay, let's go find the chicks. -The 1950s were very popular
for buck nights. All your car could hold
for a dollar. And some people could jam 10, 15
people in a car if they could. -A lot of drive-ins used it more
as more of a promotional tool or for special events. - At the drive-in -That was the one time you could probably get away with
putting somebody in your trunk. -Most of the studios owned
their own exhibition arm, so there was
a Warner theater chain, the Paramount theaters. - We got the money,
and you got the money Honey, you got the money -The film companies -- I think they catered
to the indoors. -Film companies didn't want
to give drive-in theaters first-run prints. -It was really hard for the drive-in theater
to get a first-run. -Beginning in 1940, there was a lawsuit
that went through the courts in which
they were trying to break up this studio stranglehold
on exhibition. And by 1948, that happened. And that is known
as the Consent Decree. -In those days, you had first,
second, and third run, so we played
all the way down the list in both drive-ins and hardtops. -The '70s and '80s, second run, we didn't play any movie until it was 14,
sometimes 20 weeks old. -Advertisement
in a lot of newspapers -- "Now at popular prices." That means you no longer
have to spend the 2 bucks to go to see the film
at a nice theater. You could see it in your local
neighborhood theater or in the drive-ins. -That was before video,
before VCRs. In the '70s,
you could play them. In the Lehigh Valley area,
"The Sound of Music" played at the Boyd theater
for 52 weeks. You're not gonna see that
anymore, because it's just overkill. -This was your chance
to see this movie, and if it went away,
it went way. -Another problem they had
was daylight savings time. -Once they started doing
daylight savings, it really affected
the time window that drive-ins had
for their business. -Daylight savings means
my staff goes home at all hours of the morning. -Too late at night
for people to come for dinner, so that really took a bite
out of the concession sales. -They couldn't show movies
until 9:00, 9:30 at night. People -- you know, they had
to go to work the next day. Kids had to go to school. They couldn't be out that late. -Staying for the second movie
isn't nearly as appealing if you get out
at 2:00 in the morning. It's not
as good of a family outing. -The drive-ins
were really fighting against daylight savings time. And when it finally
became national in 1967, well, there's another thing
that affected attendance. -It has no meaning anymore.
It just shouldn't exist. Now, it is not because
I love drive-ins. I am in a wonderful position. My theater was built
by Jack Vogel. The back of the screen
faces west. The front faces east. I can get on a screen at 8:45. You tell that
to poor Deb Sherman in Ohio, who's waiting till 10:00 before she can start
her first movie. -If I could have it my way,
I would say, "Oh, yeah,
forget daylight savings time. You know, it gets late enough
as it is, and it's just fine." -There's a drive-in movie. Let's get these people. -Another thing that drive-ins
always had to deal with was mosquitoes. -Bugs can be
a little horrendous, but, you know, we deal with it. -We do have bug zappers, and we do offer
free insect repellent. -The 1940s and '50s,
they would go around fogging drive-in theaters
with insecticides to try to eliminate that problem
to keep people happy. Usually DDT,
I believe, it was called. It was later banned
for causing cancer. -They would sell
this thing that you would light, and it would give off an odor that would keep
the mosquitoes away, and all the drive-ins
would sell it. -A pleasant aroma for you... But not for mosquitoes. -[ Groaning ]
We've had it! -Pic is on sale
at the refreshment stand now. -You know,
it all depends on the weather. If the weather's right
and the movies are right, we're going to be busy. [ Thunder crashes ] -You can have a big plan, and the weather
can take it all out. -And there was
a drive-in theater down below Lewistown, P.A.,
called the Midway drive-in. It was under
about 12 feet of water. -Depending on heavy snows
or hurricanes or five or six inches of rain,
we will get flooded, and we do get flooded. -Winds blowing over screens. We've had a lot of drive-in
damage due to hurricanes. [ Rock music plays ] -In 1955,
Hurricane Diane comes through. It actually came up the Gulf, and then came up
along the Mississippi River, blew over
the original projection room, blew over the shadowbox screen,
the box office, and the two outhouses. -The screen blew down
in 1981 in a storm. It looked like somebody
just tore it in half and left the right side of it
on the ground. -Hurricane Agnes just took down
a quarter of the Bengies screen. -There was a hurricane
coming up the coast, and we were trying
to get the show in before the rain started. As we get into the part
where the tornado actually hits the drive-in theater
in the movie, there's lightning
on either side of the screen, and it just lit up the skies
all over the place, and you could never get
those special effects in an indoor theater. -There are people that are gonna go
to the drive-in no matter what. -I used to go constantly
in the rain. -There are people
that are gonna go in the winter. If it's 20 degrees
and the snow's blowing, I got to wonder,
why are you here? I'm glad you are, but I really have to wonder
sometimes. -About halfway through
the first movie, it started to snow. We had to go get a car heater. -Almost all the drive-ins
were wired for heaters. -We plugged this heater in
at the base of the speaker pole, tried not
to set the place on fire, because we've got blankets
draped in front of it, and we sat there in a snow storm watching three
"Dirty Harry" movies, and we were just laughing because everybody in the world
would have thought we were nuts, but we just loved it. -One problem for drive-ins
in the northern climates -- very short seasons. A lot of times, it will be
Memorial Day to Labor Day, weekends only after that. -Theaters would shut down
in the winter. We have one left in Utah
called the Redwood, and it shuts down
between October and March. -Our season usually runs from the end of March,
first week in April, to, like,
the last week in October. -I mean, it's basically
really cold and snow and ice. It's just dangerous. -Even though you're closed, you're still going out there,
checking on the place, working on different things and getting everything prepared
for next year. [ Mid-tempo music plays ] -Probably if there hadn't been
World War II, television would have been
a much more major force earlier than it was. You see in the United States,
starting around '49 and '50, where television explodes
onto the scene, and this really affected
the motion-picture industry, because people who were buying
televisions, and many of them
were families -- you know,
the sort of post-war family. -One of the big things
with early television was they really were aiming
for family entertainment. They really were targeting
a mass audience. -They would stay home, and they would watch their
entertainment on television. Gradually, there was more
and more programming. You get Milton Berle
and Lucille Ball and hundreds, really,
of programs, that we're familiar with
from the early '50s. [ Mid-tempo music plays ] -It was another form
of competition that drive-ins
had to deal with. -Filmmakers had to compete with something that people could
watch for free and in the luxury
of their own home. -You have a huge increase
in color movies. By the end of 1950, there were
about 1,000 color films. But by the time you get to 1960, almost half of the films
were in color. You also see the rise
in the wide screen. Starting in '53,
you have cinemascope, as opposed to the 1:33 format
that had been used before. And stereophonic sound comes in. So you have
a different experience than people can get at home. It did cause a lot of anxiety
amongst theater owners, because they had
to rebuild their theater. -It was such a wide picture. They didn't want
to tear down the entire screen, so they would just build
on the edges of the screens to make them wider, to be able to show
cinemascope movies. They had to have what we call
"wings" added to the screens. -With older screens,
you might be able to see the original, almost square size
of the screen and additions on the sides. -It was a new experience that was to drag people away
from their living rooms and into a theater
so you get an entertainment that you could not reproduce
at home. But now people are buying that
format for their televisions. So something that started out
as a novelty is now the standard. -The Cinerama,
when it first came out, when you use three projectors on
a curved screen. Of course, it was something big. -It not only was a wide screen, but it actually had
a three-part screen in which
three different projectors are giving you an image to make it sort of pop out and be almost like
a round viewing experience. [ Mid-tempo music plays ] I think the first one was
"This is Cinerama," in which it starts out
with a roller coaster, and you really felt like
you were on the roller coaster. So it gave you
a sensory experience, which, I guess now,
you could say is similar
to the IMAX experience. [ Rock music plays ] -The family slowly started
to not come to the drive-in, and it became
more of a teenage hangout. -The concept of a teenager really started
right around that time. We tend to think
of the teen years as hormones
and biological changes, but the reality is, teenagers are really
a market segment. We had a major economic boom. So for the first time, most teenagers
didn't have to spend a lot of their free time
working. And so a teen culture
kind of emerged that had its own separate
and distinct popular culture. -Once the teenagers found
their newfound freedom of being able to drive
and own their own automobiles, the drive-in
was the place to go. -Teenagers now were beginning
to have cars. They had more expendable income. -Here we have
a whole generation of people that all of a sudden,
their main pursuit is fun. -As a teenager, myself and my friends,
we went to the drive-in. That was a ritual. -In my early teens, I certainly wouldn't go
with my parents. I mean, that would be like,
"oh," you know, "God forbid." -I wasn't old enough
to drive yet, so I'd get my mom
to drop me off with the car. -People just got their licenses and borrowed a car
and went to the drive-in. -They could meet their friends, see the movies
that they liked to see, and not have to worry
about adults bugging them. -They might not have had many other public spaces
to congregate. -I'd go
two or three times a week, and it could have been
the worst movie there was, and it frequently was back then. [ Woman screaming ] -Barb and I were dating. We actually fell in love
at a drive-in theater, and I knew she was the one. - Stars above We fell in love At the picture show -I talk
to a lot of baby boomers, and, you know, wink, wink, but their memory may not be of
the movie that they were seeing. - One kiss
that would last forever -You have the environment
of being in your car, where it can be private
and romantic or whatever. -About halfway through the show,
I asked her, "Do you want to get
in the backseat?" She said, "No, I'll stay
up here with you." [ Chuckles ] -Teenagers found out
it was private. That they didn't have to worry
about cops or anything else. -The image of the kids
making out in the car -- that was certainly
a popular conception, whether it was true or not. -Drive-ins had the reputation
of being passion pits. That may have been true,
but only to a slight degree. Most people were there
to see the film. -A lot of the movies were
targeted specifically to teens. -The teenage films --
they're a little bit campy -- really started in the '50s. [ Rock music plays ] -I don't know if I'd use
the word "teen," but I would say I was conscious that my films were seen
primarily by a youth audience. -A lot of times,
they would be on a double bill that was very popular
in the '50s. Two low-budget movies
at the same time, many of them black and white. -A movie company called
American International Pictures really catered
to drive-in theaters and the teenage audience. -I worked
with American International probably more
than any other company until 1970, when I started
my own company -- New World. -Drive-in theaters of the '60s
and the '70s were showing A.I.P. movies, which were not considered
in regular movie houses to be the best movies. -They are the ones that pretty much made all
the movies that we remember -- "Night of the Blood Beast"
and "Dragstrip Girl" and "Hot Rod Gang"
and all these movies. The kids loved it. -You also have things like
the beach movies that start, you know,
maybe in the early '60s -- the surfing movies. You know, Sandra Dee
and Annette Funicello, "Beach Blanket Bingo,"
those king of things. -They were considered
"B" movies, pretty much. Any type of franchise like that would play out really well
at the drive-in. Of course, Elvis movies
were always really good. Another favorite,
believe it or not, was the Batman movie from 1967. -That was really the only outlet
for those kind of films, in these sort of lesser movie
theaters or in the drive-ins. Some of the producers
and directors who later became very prominent
in the '60s and '70s, like Roger Corman, for example, who would make very low-budget,
quick-production films and release them really quickly. -It's been said
I made the first biker film with "The Wild Angels,"
and actually it's true. It's the first film
about the Hells Angels. The film actually ended up
being the only American entry that year
at the Venice film Festival, and it was
the opening-night film. -The next big wave
of horror films was monster movies
throughout the '50s and '60s. And they would use
a lot of actors, some of whom later became
famous, like Jack Nicholson. And a lot
of very popular directors started in these low-budget,
Roger Corman features. -I financed the first films
of a number of directors. I was convinced
that they were good. Most of them had worked with me
as an assistant. I think the only one who hadn't
worked with me previously was Marty scorsese. Francis Coppola
was my assistant. Jonathan Demme. Ron Howard had starred
in a picture for me and went on to direct. Jim Cameron had been
head of special effects. -The filmmakers
who are considered the greats
of the last 30 or 40 years started in this kind of
low-budget fare, much of which went to drive-ins. [ Suspenseful music plays ] -The age of Bobby socks
and ice-cream sodas is gone. These people
no longer feel constrained by the social rules of the past. [ Rock music plays ] -The '60s --
changed completely around. -This generation
that had all this leisure time was also a generation
that was increasingly feared. -The movie-viewing experience
really changed in the '60s, and I don't think
it was just confined to movies. -I think, in general,
it affected pop culture. The way you felt
about the establishment really changed. -Yeah.
"Don't trust anybody over 30." There was a lot of unrest. Racial riots going on. You had -- in '63, you had
the Kennedy assassination. You had his brother killed. You had Martin Luther King shot. -It was a very confusing time. -Yeah. -Our world was pretty much... -It was turned upside down. -...over. Well, how we grew up, you know,
in the '50s, and that was so different. -One of the things was that's when the drug culture
started coming out. -And it made a change. You know, the type of people
that went to drive-in movies. -Yeah. -The first drive-in movie
that I really remember is "Midnight Cowboy." It was me
and my best little girlfriend, and we were 11 years old. And my father -- he said,
"Be sure to go to sleep. I want you to go to sleep in
the back of the station wagon." We're like, "okay," you know? And he left, and we watched
"Midnight Cowboy," and it was a big thing, because it was
an "X"-rated movie at the time. -You couldn't even call it
a hard "R." If you watch it today
by today's standards, it's almost laughable. -Filmmakers were really chaffing
up the censorship powers that be in Hollywood before about 1965. If films didn't have
a purity seal, mainstream theaters
would not show them. -By the mid-to-late 1960s, the hays code was replaced
by a ratings system. -"G" means "Suggested
for general audiences." "M" -- "Suggested
for mature audiences." "R" -- "Restricted. "Persons under 16 not admitted unless accompanied
by parent or adult guardian." "X" -- "Persons under 16
will not be admitted." -There was movies played. One was called "Blow-Up"
and "Taxi Driver." They're the type of movies
that made you think. -It was part of the youth counterculture
rebellion of the '60s which spilled over into mass entertainment
in the '70s. -People become disillusioned, so you see this reflected
in film. -It's true
that in the early '70s. Films began
to become a little edgier. They were more violent. They were using
rougher language. Nudity was starting
to come into it. -You see an increase
in more adult subjects. -You started to see a lot of the topical issues
involving drugs. "The Trip,"
which was about LSD -- Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern,
Dennis Hopper. Jack Nicholson wrote
the screenplay. -Definitely in the early '70s, you see an increase
in more graphic violence. "Targets," the first film which Peter Bogdanovich
directed, was shot at a drive-in. And while the horror film
was showing, there would be a sniper
at the top of the drive-in shooting the audience. It was a very good film. It got wonderful reviews and
really launched Peter's career. -We started to see significant
changes in sexual content. -More nudity. -Russ Meyer's "Supervixens," I mean, "The Pom Pom Girls," which somebody changed the title to "The Mop Pop Girls"
on the marquee. -More explicit representations
of sex, sex outside of marriage. -"Wicked Stewardesses,"
or whatever. "The Housewives,"
"The Women in Jail." -You had a lot
of exploitation movies. You had all these weird
kind of things coming out. -You also get a lot of the blaxploitation-type
movies. You see a lot of them
for several years in the '70s. So these were kind of a -- some were more high-budget
than others, but those were the kind of films that you could see
in a drive-in. A lot of the sort of campy
or cheesy horror/mystery/thriller-type
movies. "Let's Scare Jessica to Death,"
or these kind of films in which people are watching -- they're very tense,
and all of a sudden [gasps] You know, you could do that
in a drive-in very, very well. You also have this huge number of the sort of slasher
kind of movies. Really horror, grade "Z",
cheesy kind of movies. -There was one movie --
it was "Vanishing Point." This was the last
chase-car movie. -These kind of films are kind of
a natural fit with drive-ins and the younger generation. -"Enter the Dragon" -- really great
on the drive-in screen. -Audiences enjoyed them. They were not going
to be watching "Ben Hur," but nobody was expecting them
to be that. -While it's interesting
from a historical point of view, and if you're a film lover, certainly that's part
of a filmography. For business -- it was not
that great for business. -Once it got into the '70s, it started really shifting
onto the soft-porn movies. You know, sex on the screen. -A lot of drive-ins got forced
into running "X"-rated, which was part
of their downfall, and they did this because they couldn't get
halfway-decent movies. -It might be related
to the growth of pornography as more mainstream,
which happened in the 1970s. -And that really irritated
communities that lived
around drive-in theaters. -They didn't want
the wild teenagers and the loud music
and the 50-foot naked women and the whole thing that everybody associated
with drive-ins. -I think it did tend to show
more risqu kinds of films. -But they did what they had
to survive as a business. -And so that is one
of the reasons that community members
might be very skeptical about what kind of behavior
goes on at drive-in movies, because it does lend itself
to less-desirable behaviors, especially if the movies
are pretty edgy. -And the kids would be able
to look out the back window and see someone
having sex on the screen -- you know, 50-feet high. That would usually get
the church groups going. The councils would start
trying to pass ordinances. The 1970s were really big for trying to shut down
drive-ins that way. -I would want no part of it,
and I would hope that anybody
that owned a drive-in would want no part of it. I don't care how bad
financial things got. -In a different sense,
those kind of movies, though, are what kept drive-ins going
in the '70s. -Drive-ins would want
to disassociate themselves with that image, and they'd rather forget
going through that time. -We went to the supreme court. The news was all over
the country -- front page, big and all. And the local paper put one
column about an inch and a half, telling that we won our case
at the supreme court. -It seemed to be a last resort to nearly all the drive-ins
that were going down. And they would try
the triple-X's, and then, all of a sudden,
they would be dark. -It led to a lot
of the drive-in theaters developing a bad reputation. It led to a lot of drive-in
theaters becoming decrepit. -The use of neon
really took off in the '50s, but the problem with neon was
it's very expensive to keep up. You know, if it breaks, you got
to call a guy to come out. -A lot of them
were not installed properly on a wood structure
and burned down. Insurance companies started telling drive-in theater
operators, "We're not going to insure
your screens because you carry neon on them." City ordinances came into being,
and they were saying, "We don't want you using this
on your sign." -And as the years went on, theater owners just neglected
to fix the signs. -The ones that remained
were simpler signs. -And slowly the drive-in
got that rugged look. -Why would they drive
in to a drive-in that's enclosed with all weeds
and trees growing and everything else? -So you're constantly having somebody on the field checking
this stuff. -It not only applies
to the marquee and certain aspects
of the screen but also the speakers,
as well. -They would get broken. The wiring in the ground
would go bad, and then you'd have to dig up
all the asphalt and try to locate it
and try to fix it. It's just really becoming
a nightmare. -Every Saturday, without fail,
we'd walk up and down the rows and make sure the speakers
worked. And the ones that didn't,
you would drop on the ground. -And if you have 3,000 speakers,
that's a lot of checking. -There was always vandalism
or mistakes of people driving off with
that speaker still attached. -They're out there
in the snow and the wind. The cones on the inside, if you don't keep up on them,
will get tinny. People throw them
out of the car, and switches break,
and cases break, and it's a lot of work. -Mr. Insurance
won't let us have a playground. Well, he would,
for the right price. -Because of insurance reasons, drive-ins had to get rid
of playgrounds. -A lot of theaters
have shied away from it now. There's liability issues
in a lot of places. -Some drive-in theaters -- they got built up in areas
that weren't so nice. -Many of them, if we would
go back to the sites now, would be much more urban
in their location than they would have been
50,60 years go. -Gang problems. Got to the point where that's all that showed up
at the drive-in was gangs. -It's really not
a place you take your family. -The other thing that drives
me wild is property damage. You know,
graffiti is a funny thing. Buddy,
go buy a little piece of land, build a wall, and paint
whatever you want on it, okay? -Fights would break out, and the police were constantly
getting called to drive-ins. They weren't making money.
They'd just close and walk away. [ Slow piano music plays ] [ Rock music plays ] -The reality
of both parents working or a lot of divorces
or whatever it was changed that nuclear family. -Family times that we associate
with the 1950s -- for the 1970s, those same
families weren't experiencing a lot of the same
kind of stability. -You do see a rise in films about people
who are just divorced, like "Starting Over"
or "Kramer vs. Kramer." "An Unmarried Woman." It became a reflection
of the way society was. -And if you couple that with the energy crisis
and the gas shortage... -The gas crisis not only
involved a high price of gas, but it involved long lines. It involved rationing. -With 9 out of 10 stations
closed this weekend, traffic on southland freeways
was far lighter than usual. -If your license plate
had odd numbers, you had to go get gas
on certain days. It was even certain days. So people were not gonna drive
for entertainment. It was more important
for them to go to work, to go food shopping
for their family, and it was tough. -And a big switch
from huge cars to little,
tiny, gas-efficient cars. -The gremlins, the pintos. -Cars become smaller
and more compact. And smaller cars
make it less enjoyable to sit in them for a few hours
and watch a movie. We weren't as obsessed with
being in our car all the time. -Another interesting
thing that happened was the advent
of the bucket seat with the high back and also the bench seat
with the headrests on them. -Oh, bucket seats, yeah.
Bucket seats. -Because now people couldn't sit
in the backseat and see the screen. -That definitely contributed
to the demise of the drive-in. There is no question. Because you no longer had
the big cars, and the price of gas was up. -There were nights that it was
not worthwhile to be open. -People's thinking
was different. The whole thing was different. [ Church choir singing
indistinctly ] -One way they could get into
the good graces of the community were to offer
their properties up for church services on Sundays. -Let us rejoice and be glad. -In Wisconsin,
the Beaumont drive-in did it. The 41 Twin did it.
The Stardust in Eau Claire. St. Croix Hilltop
in Houlton, Wisconsin, are still doing it even though the theater's
been closed since 1992. The drive-in's still standing, and they actually have
a funny thing they do -- a song. It's "If you're happy and
you know it, clap your hands." Well, they do "If you're happy
and you know it, honk your horn,
blink your lights," and something else. Or, "wipe your wipers,"
I think it is. It's pretty funny. -The fact that the drive-ins
were only operational for four or five hours
every night meant that there was
this huge plot of land that was sitting, you know,
just doing nothing all day long. -Flea markets
is another really common way that the land can be used
during the day. -A lot of drive-ins on Sundays,
they, you know, fill up the lot with people selling antiques
and whatever. -The United States
is a little bit odd in the sense that they don't
have it as much
as other countries have it, and it is a viable alternative to shopping at, you know,
Walmart or Target. It's cheaper,
there's more variety, and you're outdoors, and there are all these elements that make it really
a pleasant experience. -In some places,
it didn't go over so well. The skyway drive-in up in door
county tried for a short time. Just didn't go over. A lot of times,
we're just depending on how much of the surrounding
community you had to draw on. -They take about 10 years
to get off the ground, and once you get
to the 10-year mark, it's a really big,
thriving marketplace. It just establishes itself, and then it keeps growing
from there. -Actually, it has kept us going. In fact, the last 20 years, it's helped me
to subsidize development. -It's sustaining us
in hard times. To sustain us economically,
the thing is the swap meet. -We are running the typical
theater projection system. The single projector
with the platter system. -This is the lamp house. It provides the light to put
the picture on the screen with. -Most indoor theaters will use maybe a 2,500-watt,
3,000-watt lamp. Drive-ins usually use
a minimum of 4,000 watts, up to 7,000 watts, depending on the size
of the screen. -What we have here
is a platter system, where you can put
your entire movie together, spliced end to end,
and it just runs through. And as it plays,
it rewinds itself. You don't have to be
in the booth all the time. -Sound technology
pretty much stayed the same all the way into the 1970s, when they came up with
the concept of of radio sound, where they could broadcast
the soundtrack of the movie over your car radio. -With low-frequency
radio transmission as a means of delivering sound. -The power
was confined pretty much to just a quarter-mile radius
of the theater. -Radio sound caught on
very, very quickly. Sort of instantly transferred
to all the theaters, and they literally just took
the speaker boxes out but left the speaker poles
and everything else in place. -I was used to seeing them
all those years, though, and it almost looked like a chicken that you took
the feathers off of. -They would eventually take out
the speaker poles, like if they had to repave
the theater. That would be the time
that you would take it out, and you would just, like,
make it smooth. -We used to have
a thriving downtown. All the stores were downtown, and you walked on the street,
and you saw people, and you would talk. -The downtown was dying. People didn't go downtown
anymore. It wasn't safe.
It wasn't kept up. And all throughout the '70s, the issue of crime
was really significant. We started seeing these covered malls
be really important. -And when they built
the first shopping center, we had an inside thing
to walk in. We didn't really know
what to do in there. -No longer had the sort of town-meeting place
where you would go. Now it was gonna be
at a closed mall, because they were safer. And you also would see the rise
of theaters in the mall. These sort of smaller venues, sometimes 2 or 3 or as many
as 10 smaller theaters. -Hometown theaters
were always single screen. What you saw with the ascension
of mall theaters and youths going to the malls is that it really depressed
the drive-in theater business. -And the exhibitors came
upon the idea of, let's divide
these old movie palaces that could hold
maybe 500 or 600 or 1,000 people into a multiplex. -They would take
their indoor theater, just build a wall down
the middle to make two screens, and then eventually they were
just starting to build them as four screens, five screens,
and more. -They started building
10 plexes, 12 plexes, 14 plexes. -4 screens to 18. -16 and 32 and 100 screen,
whatever they were. So they didn't have
the 1,200-seat theaters till they had put it on four,
250-seat stadium seating. -Drive-ins were losing
their product. They were going
to indoor-theater screens. -And sometimes you would be
in a little screening room, an auditorium that might not be that much bigger
than your living room. -And, of course, those were the first small screens
that any of us had ever seen. -The drive-ins had to compete so they would start
adding on screens. -I believe the second screen
went up in '82. And it was probably
a couple of years after that theater 3 went up. And what we were
indeed doing is, we're competing
with the indoors. -I think they started off
with two screens and then expanded out to four, and that's pretty much
a typical story of drive-ins and their bid for survival. -When it became multi-screen,
it was kind of strange, because you could turn your head
and see the other screen. You could turn around and see
what was happening over there. -When you look
at a drive-in's layout, you can definitely see where,
at some later point in time, they added in one that maybe
wasn't originally planned. -What we find with the drive-ins is that
a three-screen drive-in theater, like the one that we're in
today, the Van Buren,
is really too small. We really feel most comfortable
having four or five screens, because that gives us
the widest range of being able
to keep current with the studios to show all the new releases, to do what we need to do
to show movies. -You cannot exist
as a single-screen theater, whether you're an indoor theater
or a drive-in theater. It just is not
economically possible. [ Techno music plays ] Cable television,
Blockbuster video -- those things all happened
in the early '80s. -And with VCRs coming out, people weren't as interested
in drive-ins anymore. They may have not gone
as often as they used to, and that, maybe, you can blame on the advent of home video
and how it took over. -First, there was the BETA tape
and the VHS tape. -I remember going
into that Blockbuster and going, "Wow, this is so amazing!" -Cable television, particularly HBO
and, later, Showtime, started in the '80s. -HBO was a really big thing. It cost a lot of money, so people who had it
tended to want to stay home. -We started distributing
our films primarily for HBO. -DVD and now blu-ray. -There's TiVo and DVRs
and everything that allows us to watch what we want,
when we want. More opportunities to kind of
control one's own destiny. Video games especially took off
in arcades. Gradually, they became enjoyed
more in private households. A major cultural force
in competition with movies, so much so that I think movies are trying to adopt some
of the logic of video games. -The land seemed
inexhaustible -- a land of quiet main streets. Today, the land
is being swallowed up at the rate
of one million acres a year. -As we had suburban sprawl,
cities expanded. Drive-ins became surrounded
by development. -Now the drive-in
was in the city. -In an area where I lived, which was just stuffed
with apartment buildings, just right behind it,
there was one. -At one point,
my father lived in a building that overlooked a drive-in. -A drive-in theater owner
had to pay more taxes 'cause his land value
kept going up. -In a lot of cases,
somebody else owns the land. -The leases would have run out
in the '50s, and rather than renewing leases, the owners of the ground, they could sell
and make more money. -I don't know if I believe that they were less popular
than they were. I think they just kind of
got pushed out, and it became
so expensive to maintain it. These lots -- they not only fell
out of favor, they fell. -Then a decrease in attendance
that you experienced in the '70s might make people take it down. [ Mid-tempo music plays ] -We drove past it. Everybody knew, without anybody
saying anything, that the drive-in was done. It was over. -We had a drive-in theater
in north Hollywood called the Victory. It was so well-loved that when they decided they were
gonna tear the drive-in down, this man chained himself to the top of the screen tower
for two days in protest of destroying
that beautiful screen tower. [ Mid-tempo rock music plays ] -Not even a matter of whether or not the drive-in
is doing a good business or is still profitable. It's that the land can make
more money as something else. - Money makes the world
go round -The property that they were on
became such a premium. - Makes the world go 'round -That money was out there, and a lot of guys
took advantage of it. -All of them
in Los Angeles County, and there were 60 or 70 of them
at one time. They're all gone. -Land that held
drive-in movie theaters sometimes
is much more profitable to be sold to developers. - Money makes
the world go round And 'round and 'round
and 'round, yeah Money
- Money - Making the world go round - Go round -Developers would come in, and they'd say
to a drive-in theater owner that was making
$10,000 a year profit, "I'll give you $500,000
for your property," and they're like --
they think they've made it. And they had. -If somebody comes along
and says, "Here, I'll give you
$2 million for your property," well, pfft, it's gone. -Walmarts were buying
the properties and whatnot. - They tore down the drive-in
with a wrecking ball Put up a Walmart
and a shopping mall -Now we find a lot of Walmarts or Home Depots
or Lowe's in those places. Unfortunately, a drive-in
is a nice, big piece of land that doesn't have
too many structures that need to be torn down. It's in a memorable location. You know, everybody knows where the old Skylight drive-in
used to be, and it's at the intersection
of freeways. So it's prime real estate and really attractive
to the big-box retailers. -For every million people
in America, there are "x" amount
of McDonald's. There are "x" amount
of Walmarts -- you know,
it grows, it grows -- and there was one
drive-in theater. -We formed
the Friends of the Grandview to preserve the Grandview
and have it renovated. At that time, we didn't know
anything about a Walmart deal. We just knew that the property owners
weren't doing any maintenance and weren't allowing it to open. -We have one big rubber stamp
running down this road. Burger king,
and then we have McDonald's, and then we have the Walmart. And you know what? It just repeats
every so many miles. -And to take what makes
your city and your town unique and bulldoze it down for another
generic Walmart makes no sense. -There's a large influence
of consumer culture that has made shopping not just something
that you do when you need to, but kind of a preferred
leisure activity. -The public needs to be more
involved in their communities. They shouldn't let
national corporations change the face
of their communities. [ Rock music plays ] -There are a lot of efforts
to preserve those structures. Even if the drive-in has to go, sometimes they can still
preserve the marquee. There are a lot of drive-ins that have
historical significance, and one angle that groups
of supporters will use to try and save a drive-in and
keep it from a strip mall is to try
and get landmark status or something along those lines. And even once that has happened, I know the one on Route 66,
the Azusa foothill -- they were successful in declaring certain
historical status for that site. But that doesn't necessarily
keep it from being developed. -The 41 Twin was the place
I worked at the last few years it was open. I knew
that if it could get a marker, it wasn't gonna stop
the demolition. But I just didn't want it
to be forgotten. The 41 Twin now has a marker
on the site. People can go up there anytime
they want and look at it, and hopefully it will bring back
a little, fond memory. -I can now drive around, and I can spot
a drive-in location. You know
what those properties look like, and you can kind of look at it
and say, "I bet that was a drive-in." -But you can see
that the snack bar still stands the way it was. -Kind of neat to look over time.
You can see a satellite image. People have shared with us
all sorts of things, not just snapshots of drive-ins. We have had people send
aerial maps, terraserver images,
satellite images, photographs of ticket stubs, or an ashtray that has
a drive-in's name on it. -I certainly remember it
in "Grease" and lot of teenage movies in which they're going
to the drive-in. -[ Sneezes ] -I hope you're not getting
a cold. -Oh, no. No. It's just probably
a little drive-in dust. That's all. -I think now when you're trying
to show life in the '50s, you can kind of pinpoint it, like, "Oh, yeah,
this must be the '50s, because they're going
to a drive-in." It gives you a certain
cultural identification. -You sure you want to do this? -I came here to see a movie,
and I'm gonna see a movie. -You can still have dialogue
going on. Whereas
if they're in the movie theater, it's pretty static, or it has to be
before the movie starts. So if you're in a drive-in,
you can still advance the plot and be showing this sort of cultural phenomenon
at the same time. [ Laughter ] -The revolutionary ideals
of your forefathers are corrupted
and sold in alleys... -There will always be a need
to show drive-ins in television and movies, and it's a wonderful
cultural icon for that particular reason. [ Rock music plays ] -One of our challenges
is converting this property from an alternative-use
property, which is used for many events, from the orange county
marketplace to the fair to our drive-in. The atmosphere
that we want to create here is a very friendly,
very safe family atmosphere where people can come together
as a community. If they sit in their car, we hope they'll talk
to their neighbor. We live in a world where
the garage doors come down, and people are very scheduled
in terms of their time. So providing a family-and-community-oriented
activity is critical to what
we're trying to accomplish here. -Despite the fact that
these places are disappearing, they're actually a little bit
on the upswing right now. -There really has been a sort of rediscovery
of drive-ins going on. Over the last 5 to 10 years, we not only have younger people
getting into the business. People of all ages
discovering the drive-in, either again
or for the first time. -And all these feelings
that they had when they were kids
or when they were younger adults that they kind of
just put aside -- because they thought
drive-ins were dead or dying -- come back out, and they get
really enthusiastic. -It's not the drive-in that
they remember in the '70s, with rowdy kids
and beer parties. -Parents come to us and say
they're really glad that we made it different
than what they remember. -They're amazed
that there's no more speakers, that it comes over the radio. -Put in F.M. stereo sound. -They're definitely not
as interesting as they were. They're usually just a metal
frame with a flat panel. -Finally now
we're gonna be waiting to see what the outcome
of this digital revolution is. We're gonna have to convert
over to digital or close, obviously. But we're gonna have to make
some improvements, because of the physical
requirements of digital. -I don't think
that a lot of people knew that there were
drive-ins around. -When I'm there
on a Saturday afternoon and I'm cleaning up
or I'm doing something and somebody drives in and says,
"A drive-in? Are you open?" -"We thought
these were all gone." -Even the people
that are out here at this one, when you say to them, "Oh, yeah, there are other
drive-ins around," they'll go, "Oh, really?"
Like, "Tell me more." -I think the term "the drive-ins
are dying" is incorrect. They're coming back, and they're coming back
very uniquely, because everyone that builds one
has a really unique personality. [ Mid-tempo music plays ] -When we finally got the paperwork and everything
done and bought the place, it was seven days before it
was scheduled to be demolished. And then in 2000,
we added more screens. -We have room for 3,200 cars. I think
we're the largest drive-in in the country right now. Open 365 days a year in Detroit. -Drive-in theater owners
and drive-in in particular have been very resilient. -Your hometown drive-in
will be different than any other drive-in
in the nation, because of the people
that own them. -What goes around comes around,
you know. And drive-ins --
they were down at one time, and now we definitely feel
that they are coming back. -Will it ever be back
to 5,000 screens? No. But I think that any losses
that we have are now stabilized, and I think there's now room
for some growth. -Maybe we have to put together a 30-second Super Bowl
commercial or something to let 94 million viewers know that there are drive-ins
out there. -I heard in Alabama,
they got around 12 drive-ins. Most of them
have either been new builds or ones that have been reopened after being closed
for several years. That is a testimony right there
to the popularity coming back. 'Cause why would you build
a drive-in? Why would you spend
all that money to reopen a drive-in
if nobody's gonna come? Freedom, Wisconsin -- they actually built a drive-in
from the ground up. I got to witness that. It's kind of nice
to see a drive-in being built instead of being torn down. -We had 150 cars show up
with no advertising, and that was the start
of our drive-in. -We saw the Raleigh Road
outdoor theater in Henderson, North Carolina,
on ebay, and it was in such
a bad state of repair. But we had a dream
as to what we could do with it. -He had the dream.
I was ready to kill him. -[ Chuckles ] [ Rock music plays ] -Tonight,
we're reopening the drive-in after 19 years of being dark. We've been getting
incredible comments. A lot of new
potential customers -- over 7,000 people on Facebook, thanking us
for reopening the drive-in. -As a businessman,
I know for a fact that the highest
and best economic use for my 15 acres in
the industrial park in Watertown is not a drive-in. I know that. -We made a solemn promise that whatever we made
off the drive-in, we're putting it
right back into it. -Walmart's not coming. You know, they're not gonna come
buy my little drive-in and make it a Supercenter. That's not gonna happen. -We've invested
everything we can. We haven't taken any salary
out of our theater. -We're trying to keep it for future generations
down the road to come out and enjoy it. [ Rock music plays ] -I think
families have rediscovered what the drive-in is about. -It's amazing how
it goes through the process of a couple
when they first start dating. And then a couple years later, they'll tell you
they got married. And then you see
kids in the car, and then the kids are grown up,
running around in pajamas. It's just absolutely amazing. -We get first-run movies, where they didn't get
first-run movies before. -There's a lot more
animated movies. -Family pictures
are really, really the bread and butter
of the business. There's just no two ways
about it. -We could have a really bad day. And as soon as we step
on that property, it just, you know,
like there was clouds and rain, and all of a sudden, boom,
the sun comes out. We just love it. -Seeing the families come and seeing the kids enjoy it
is worth a million dollars. -Yes, it is. I agree. -One little girl e-mailed me, and she says
that she's going to the drive-in to find her future husband, because that's where
her mom found her dad. -Here Friday or Saturday night, you got the American family
together under the stars watching an outdoor movie in the nostalgia
of a drive-in theater. What's better? [ Rock music continues ] -And now on with the show. [ Upbeat rock music plays ] - Don't let your parents know We're gonna be
where the cool kids go - At the drive-in - We're gonna stay out late - At the drive-in - We're gonna celebrate And have some popcorn, too You'll know what to do - I'm at the drive-in - You can lay your head
on my shoulder You can cry
when the sad part comes You can hide your eyes
from the monster We'll cheer
'cause the good guys won Don't let your parents know We never really take it slow - at the drive-in - We'll be in the backseat - At the drive-in -[ Singing indistinctly ] You'll know what to do - At the drive-in - We're gonna celebrate We're gonna stay out late - At the drive-in - We're gonna scream
and shout When the stars comes out - At the drive-in At the drive-in At the drive-in -whoo!