Oct 082003
Authors: Amy Bergstrom

Maxine Yankey remembers days when the entire family piled into

the car and saw a movie, sometimes for only $1. The family went

almost every week to a drive-in movie, mom and dad watching from

the front while the kids fell asleep in the back.

Then, “it just kind of faded, like a lot of things fade,” Yankey


Drive-in movie theatres, which reached their peak in the 1950s,

began closing in rapid numbers during the 1970s and 1980s. They

may, however, be in a renaissance, with more drive-ins opening than

closing since the 1990s.

This summer was the best summer for the Holiday Twin Drive-in in

Fort Collins in Jason Higgins’s nine years, said Higgins, manager

of the drive-in.

“Every year’s gotten better and better,” Higgins said.

Starting in the 60s, drive-ins faced obstacles ranging from VCRs

to Daylight Savings Time. Daylight Savings Time is partially

responsible for the closing of 90 percent of America’s drive-ins,

according to the Web site of the Cinderella Twin Drive-in in


This is because drive-ins cannot start movies until after

sunset. With Daylight Savings Time, the time of sunset is later,

and families are less willing to bring their children to a late

movie at the drive-in.

For Yankey, another reason for the drop in drive-ins was growing


“We came in to a time when there was at least one TV in every

home,” she said. “We do our clustering together at home instead of

elsewhere now.”

In the late 70s, drive-in screens became like “dinosaurs,”

Yankey said.

“When the drive-in in Loveland closed, the big screen sitting

out there became a skeleton that we’d drive past,” she said.

Colorado currently has 12 operating drive-ins, with 18 screens,

according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association Web

site. Nationwide, there are 405 drive-ins. In 1958, the biggest

year for drive-ins, there were more than 4,000.

In July, News4 in Denver reported that the Cinderella Twin may

be closing, due to redevelopment but not due to failing business.

This is a possibility, but not confirmed, according to the

drive-in’s Web site. Management at the drive-in was not available

for further comment.

Drive-ins offer a lot of benefits, Higgins said. Families can

take children who can fall asleep in the backseat, friends can talk

without disturbing the person next to them and at the Holiday Twin,

two first-run movies are only $5 per adult, compared to $7 or $8

for a single movie at an indoor theatre.

“Plus, it’s the outdoors,” Higgins said. “Especially here in

Colorado, you can watch a movie and enjoy the outdoors at the same


Drive-ins, and their prices in particular, may be especially

appealing to college students.

“College students never have any money,” Higgins said. “They can

still see first-run films.”

Whether or not drive-ins continue to multiply and expand, they

will remain an important part of American culture, Higgins


“These are some of the last pieces of history,” he said. “It’s

part of Americana.”




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