A friend of mine once posted on Facebook a picture of speakers at the drive-in movies from the 1970s. The purpose of the picture was to show that if a person knows what’s on the picture, she must have lived during that time. I had no idea what was on the picture and promptly asked, “So what is it?”
The truth is I had the rare opportunity to go to a traditional drive-in theater as a college student in the Appalachian Mountains in the state of West Virginia. And I went more than once. I have always proclaimed myself to be a movie addict and while in high school, I even dreamed about working at a movie theater so that I could get to see all the movies. Following my first visit to the traditional drive-in theatre, however, I was whole-heartedly hooked on this unique activity and being in a regular theatre was no longer the wondrous experience I once thought it to be.
Paying $10 per carload to see two movies and having the opportunity to relax under a clear and starry sky, breathing the crisp mountain air, seemed like the perfect night out for the money-deprived college students who love the outdoors and movies:). I naturally wondered, why aren’t there more drive-in theatres around the U.S. and why isn’t everyone demanding their existence? Upon further research (yes, I researched the issue of drive-in movies!), I found out that even though they were once very popular (with over 4,000 spread around the U.S.), in the 80s and 90s, there was a sharp decline in interest. According to the latest estimates, the number of theatres is now down to a little over 350. Of those, it is not clear how many are traditional drive-ins.
Even before I encountered outdoor theatres, I had difficulty understanding people who adamantly believe that watching a DVD at home could even remotely compare to watching a movie in the cinema. After the experience in a traditional drive-in theatre, I am now truly baffled as to who would prefer to watch a movie inside. With the emphasis on surround sound, and Blu-Ray, and 3D, and other such effects I am not familiar with, it appears that similar to everything else in our fast-paced, material, and complex lives, we demand more and more when it comes to the simple experience of watching and enjoying a movie. And while waiting to see the latest blockbuster, we complain about the outrageous ticket prices and the cost of concessions in the theatres. Then we wonder why no one seems to be content with their lives. Simple sometimes is better.
To find where there’s a drive-in in your state, please visit DriveInMovie.