Remembering the Drive-In Theatre

Drive-ins still exist and they are still a great way to spend an evening!

The Galaxy Drive-In – Kingsley WA

The Galaxy Drive-In – Kingsley

The best movie I ever saw at a drive-in? The Taking of Pelham 123 (Original version).

The worst movie I ever saw at the drive-in? James Cameron’s Titanic.

Although we live in greater suburbia these days, the Galaxy Drive-in is not even five minutes down the road from where we live. The Galaxy is the only remaining drive-in the Perth greater metropolitan area. There are at least three I know of still operating in the countryside throughout Western Australia. The Galaxy has enough room for 300 cars and on a warm Spring or Summer night it is a great place to be. In fact it operates all year round (In North America, drive-ins operate on a seasonal basis). Even car clubs go there!

Even car clubs hang out there too. Image Courtesy of Galaxy Drive-in Facebook Page

A Reflection

My first interaction with a drive-in was when I was about five years old. At that time my aunty and uncle and my aunty’s sister and husband had a drive-in cleaning contract. I remember getting up at 4:30 in the morning and heading off with them to experience what it was like to be cleaning such a venue (actually, I ended up playing on the kids play equipment) and finding the odd five cent piece here and there. Of course, I was actually hoping to find fifty cent pieces and a $5 note.

When I was little, my grand parents even used to take me. I think the first movie I saw with them was Herbie the Love Bug. All in all, I went to the Drive-in over at least a 12 year period, after which their popularity began to decline. However, a number were still around when I first met Linda. Then once we were married, we discovered the Galaxy and have continued to go there on and off ever sense (well there was a big eleven year gap in there when I was off making a career elsewhere).

In a strange twist of fate, the pandemic has created a resurgence in the popularity of the drive-in social distancing you see!

So, You Want To Build A Drive-In?

Not really, but there are some key considerations, that individually don’t appear that expensive, but when you add it all up – you might want to obtain a going concern.

Image Courtesy of Drive-Ins Down Under

I was blown away to discover that there is a blog (Drive-ins Down Under) dedicated to Drive-ins in Australia. There are over 100 drive-ins throughout the nation, so there must be something still in it.

As Drive-Ins Down Under comment: there are three main ways to get a drive-in up and running: buy one that is open, re-open a closed one, or build one from scratch. 

If you build one or need to replace a screen, they vary in cost from $50,000 – $250,000. You might need two or three screens, so that’s about 4 hectares (10 acres) of land. The Galaxy is one screen, so it’s on about 2 hectares (five acres) or so.

A projector set up will cost at least $70,000. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is the kiosk, kitchen equipment, vending machines, the ticket box, amenities, fencing and the list goes on.

The Lunar Drive-in. Image of Drive-Ins Down Under
Galaxy Drive In Kingsley
Image Courtesy of Kids Around Perth

Although the drive-in is nostalgic, it is living history. Our children and their friends have got to experience it too. We get our fortnightly update from the Galaxy and as soon as there is movie that we want to see, we will be heading there once more.

Have a Great Weekend!

23 thoughts on “Remembering the Drive-In Theatre

    1. I’m glad you got to experience the drive-in here. I have been known to sleep through the odd movie at the drive-in (that’s code for, wow it is so boring – St Elmos Fire for me was one such movie).

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  1. Back in the day drive-in movies were a right bit of fun especially for teenagers on dates. And don’t forget the punks in the summertime that would attach to your car window to keep away the mosquitoes. Great fun for families too. Mom did not need to worry about sneaking in her own snacks into a movie theater under her coat- she just had to load up the trunk to feed everyone at the drive-in movies!

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    1. That’s so true, Rita. At one drive-in where I grew up in my teenage years, there was even outdoor seating down the front. As they were plastic chairs, we spent our time trying to shock each other through generating static electric shocks. They used to make an almighty cracking sound in that climate and the sparks were pretty awesome too. My folks were always happy to see me go off to the drive-in on a Friday night. As for Linda and I, yep. we load up the car with all sorts of goodies (but also support the kiosk as well). It’s just so nice to see people out and about with their families in that situation 😊

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  2. We’ve never had drive-ins here, no doubt because of the weather, until the last few years when they’ve become quite trendy. I’ve yet to visit one though and once this pandemic is over, I might even get to one.

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    1. Caz, it is one of those things over here where it’s like a big family gathering. You can kick back and relax and enjoy the show. People also enjoy having others around them and it’s almost like being in another time and place. Yes, the weather makes all the difference 😊

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  3. The only film I remember seeing at a Drive-In was the live-action Flintstones…I think? It’s been a while. I can certainly see the appeal of drive-in movies, though. I wonder if they’re making a comeback in the current situation. It makes social distancing rather painless. 😅

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