National Drive-In Movie Day is June 6 on the National Day Calendar to commemorate the day the first drive-in theater opened in 1933. Today, we went to give thanks to Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. of Camden, New Jersey for creating the drive-in theater and letting us take a walk down memory lane.
National Drive-In Movie Day takes us to a time when fun could be seen on the big screen from inside (or on top of) your car. This National Day takes us back to June 6, 1933 and a time when seeing a movie on a Friday night was an entire family affair. The idea caught on quickly and drive-ins began to pop up in other areas across the country. By the late 1950s, approximately 4,000 drive-ins we in operation throughout the United States.
“The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.”
The advertising slogan of the first drive-in theatre
Some of us remember going to the drive-in theatre. Unfortunately, not many young people today will get to experience the fun and anticipation of spending an evening watching outside on huge screen. In fact, the screen was so big the first drive-in theater screen was 40 feet by 50 feet and had 400 car slots. The first film was the Adolphe Meniou film, Wife Beware.
Copiague, Long Island, New York once was home to one of the largest drive-in theaters. The drive-in covered over 29 acres and could park 2,500 vehicles. It also hosted a full-service restaurant with rooftop seating, a trolley system to take children and adults to the playground, and a large indoor theater in case of bad weather.
Why were drive-in theatres so popular?
Drive-in theatres were so popular because it was one activity the entire family could do together. Moviegoers could bring their babies, visit, and eat. Some movie theaters either didn’t allow or they frowned upon large families attending a movie. However, drive-in theatres changed that concept.
Going to the drive-in gave people options. If someone didn’t enjoy the movie, they could leave by simply drive away. On the other hand, many people liked the idea of going to the movie in casual attire, which was something people often did when they went to a regular movie theater. Most importantly, it was much cheaper to go to a drive-in movie than the theater because the drive-in charged per carload, not per person.
Unfortunately, the invention of color television, VCRs, and video rentals led to a sharp decline in the drive-in popularity. In addition, the increase in land values and the widespread adoption of daylight saving time were also factors in the decline. Still, there are many Americans who still love going to the drive-in.
Some benefits for going to a drive-in movie include:
- It’s an opportunity to see a movie on the big screen in the great outdoors.
- You are able to support a fragile mom and pop industry.
- You can help preserve a slice of American history.
- It’s a fun and safe way to spend time with family and friends.
Do drive-in theatres still exists?
Although there aren’t nearly as many drive-in movie theaters as there once were, you can still find them in different parts of the country. Visit driveinmovie.com to find your nearest location. If you do happen to find a drive-in movie theater, there are some things you can do to maximize your experience. Check to see if the drive-in theatre has concession stands. If they don’t, remember to bring your favorite drinks and snacks. You can also bring along your favorite pillows and blankets to make sure you’re extra comfy during the movie. Remember, if your get too cramped in the car, you can always bring along your own lawn chair. Just remember to check the weather forecast. You don’t want to spend your drive-in theatre adventure in the pouring rain.
5 Most Influential Drive-In Movies of All Time
- Enter the Dragon
- Smokey and the Bandit
- Walking Tall
- Night of the Living Dead
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
CELEBRATING DRIVE-IN MOVIE DAY
- Get a carload of friends and head to the drive-in.
- You can also explore drive-in movie history.
- Share your drive-in movie memories with us.
- Give a shout out to the drive-in movie theaters near you and tag #DriveInMovieDay on social media.