Frame By Frame: Drive In Theaters
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Frame By Frame: Drive In Theaters

August 25, 2019

Hi. I’m Wheeler Winston Dixon, and this is Frame By Freame. In the 1940’s and 50’s and 60’s, drive-in theaters, or as they were called in the trade “Ozoners,” were incredibly popular throughout the United States. There were literally thousands of them, and I remember them with great fondness. They usually ran double or triple bills. They would sometimes run “dusk till dawn” shows of horror movies or genre movies and things like that. And they were a great alternative for families because you didn’t have to leave your car. You would drive in to the theater, and then you would either put a speaker in the window of your car, or else they would broadcast it on an AM radio station with a low-power transmitter to your car radio. And you would sit and watch a movie on a huge screen in this theater with 100s of other cars. The projection was usually very good. You would get to see a double or a triple bill. The cost was usually by the car; $4 to $5 per car. And drive-in theaters flourished mostly in the Midwest and the South. Although there were a lot of them in the East, where I grew up. And they were very popular as a low-cost alternative to going to movies, and also there was something nice about being able to sit in you car and bring food, and you could also avoid a baby sittter. You just put the kids in the back and put them to sleep. But what happened was, of course, the rise of video. The rise of VHS and DVD made it much more easy to stay home. Huge flat-screen TVs began to replace what they called the “drive-ins” or the “ozoners.” And they almost completely collapsed. It’s one of the saddest things, I think, in motion picture history. because they had such enormous screens, such great projection. I have so many fond memories of seeing so many great films in the drive-ins. But now they’re all but gone. There’s only a few left in the United States. So that’s something that those of you who are growing up right now will never experience, but if there is a drive-in near you that you can see…or if you can go to one, I urge you to experience it, because it’s an entirely different way to view movies. I’m Wheeler Winston Dixon and this is Frame By Frame.

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  1. Nice clip. Far too ofte, drive in theaters are replaced by Walmarts or apartment buildings, which could be built anywhere. The transition from 35mm to digital projection on January 1st 2013 will, sadly, force many more to close down. People used to Netflix and DVD's just won't pay to see a "classic" film at a drive in. They are missing a truely unique experience. Contrast the loss of drive ins to the thousands of golf courses dotting the landscape. What's up with that?

  2. Thanks for posting. The drive-in was THE only way to see a movie. I keep hoping people will see a necessity in them and keep them in operation.

  3. I work at a Drive-in, I love it, its amazing, and almost every night we are open(the weekend) it is thundering/lighting, but very beautiful, cause you don't get that in the movies.

  4. 1:15 calvert drive in calvert city,ky 45 minutes from me,so glad to have one still open and close to home.i don't know why he keeps talking about the drive in in past tense.the drive in will never die it's just to damned enjoyable and has way to many enthusiast including myself.

  5. yep too bad the theaters even got to where thugs and beer parties hung out.  The owners were lax in their rules and when we stopped going it got to a point of real disgust. The food prices were out of sight and the pop corn tasted like month old butter was used.  Just like most of the things that screw  up; it's screwed up by design.   It may or may not be the business owners fault but; the result is the same.  I miss the days when theaters had swing sets and play grounds and soda and popcorn was affordable and you didn't feel like you were ripped off. 

  6. Being older now, I appreciate seeing a film in an indoor theater or a drive-in more than watching it at home on a TV. I almost wish home media never existed so this type of film-watching wasn't dormant.

  7. There were also MANY drive-ins in the west, too, esp. in CA. where I lived. I sure miss them but in San Jose where I grew up, there still is a drive-in with six screens.

  8. Damn shame, one of my fondest memories as a child was seeing a Clint Eastwood triple feature…and eating popcorn till I vomited..good times. Here in Houston a new drive in actually opened in 2006. Its called the Showboat drive in. Good to see the next generation can enjoy em.

  9. Hi from Canada I'm 44 years old. I can remember a Few times going to them very close to where I grew up in Vancouver also a few in the valley and also a few in Wa USA. First one I remember was Heavy Metal (1981). haha Crazy

  10. It simply depends on where you live, and in some cases, how far you are willing to drive. If there is an operating drive in near you, chances are you don't go. Too easy to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime. And if you do go, you save some pocket change by bypassing the snack bar and then are sad when your drive in shuts down? When I see WAR FORTHE PLANET OF THE APES at the Capri, I'm gonna visit the snack bar!

  11. We went to drive-ins in NJ when I was a kid, and also Cape Cod. I think the Cape Cod theater is still operating.

  12. I live 10 mins to one I end up fucking in the back of the van lol. I have a question tho how to avoid getting yours cars battery to die can I use my phone's radio? To lesson to the movie?

  13. my parents worked at the silvermoon drive in right on the edge of Lakeland fl. I just went with my brother and his kids to see a quiet place about 2 weeks ago. I love them and will always love them. were still going strong in Lakeland florida! there is also one in tampa fl.

  14. The head of TXDOT survey had a 5' by 5' black & white aerial view of F.W. taken during the late 50's in his office. He and i were both teenagers when these theaters were in full blown service. The some 20 scattered locations unveiled many personal experiences of romance & fist fights to those younger surveyors listening to us.

  15. A review of this video:


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