July 25, 2005
The new drive-ins

The hot new trend in movies: Drive in theaters.

Texas drive-ins are seeing the biggest surge in decades, as Galaxy is among at least five outdoor theaters to open since 2003. The latest debuted in Killeen, near the Fort Hood military post, on July 1, and a new two-screen one in the West Texas town of Midland is expected to open next month.

Several more are planned. Steve Rodman, owner of the Crossroads Drive-In in Shiner, between Houston and San Antonio, hopes to open a Houston theater with a more contemporary design by February.

And business has been so good at the three-screen Galaxy that Murray's wife, Marsha, a co-owner, points to a flat tract where the gravel and sod have already been groomed for a fourth screen. She hints that Galaxy may ultimately house as many as 12 screens. She also wants to franchise more drive-ins across the state.

"You'd probably have to go back to the 1960s to see them building this many in a couple years' time," said Gene Palmer, who has owned the Last Drive-In Picture Show in Gatesville for 50 years.

Somewhere, Joe Bob Briggs is smiling.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 25, 2005 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack

Wow, never would have thought.

I'm 41 and just old enough to remember the fading end of the first era of drive-in theaters. I remember quite a few Jr. High and High School Friday nights watching the girls bouncing from car to car at the drive-in when "everyone" was there.

But I just can't see them working quite so well this time around. For the proper drive-in date experience you need that big comfy bench seat in your Dad's Chevy Impala and a big fuzzy blanket. Now days with modern cars, there's just no way to get close without empaling yourself on the stick shift or center console.

On the other hand, modern cars certainly have better cupholders.

Posted by: Kent on July 25, 2005 12:54 PM

My guess is that this is part of the trend to making the movie experience something besides going to see a movie on a big screen. A lot of people have commented recently on how the rise of huge TV screen market and Netflix have eaten into the need to go to a movie theater. Making the experience into something you can't do at home.

Of course, in Seattle, this doesn't exactly work.

Posted by: Nick Beaudrot on July 25, 2005 1:04 PM

I happen to live near Gatesville and I can tell you there is no more fun way to spend Halloween than at a Drive-In Horrorthon. Either laying on the hood or in the bed of a truck, drive ins will always be the best way to experience a movie. It beats the hell out of spending 30 bucks in a megaplex.

Posted by: Nate on July 25, 2005 9:53 PM

What do you mean it doesn't work in Seattle? Are you talking about the weather or something else? I grew up in Eugene Oregon in the 70s and there were a handful of drive-ins operating there. They were only open for the summer season of course, but it doesn't rain much in the summer in the Northwest anyway.

As for Seattle, you have the inner-city version of the drive-in already with the outdoor movies being shown in Freemont where you bring your own lawn chairs. I've done that and it was even more fun than a drive-in:


Posted by: Kent on July 26, 2005 10:44 AM