Those among us of a certain age remember it well - Sidling up close to your date in the front seat of Dad's car, the window rolled down and topped with a concession tray, and a metal speaker just outside turned up to hear the dialog synched with the action on the giant outside screen. Oh, yeah! Drive-in theaters were the top spot for treating your sweetheart to a fun, romantic night out. Sometimes, we actually watched the movie.
With roots going back to 1921, when Claude V. Caver of Comanche, Texas secured a permit from the city to project silent films downtown while the proper folk watched from the dashes of their Tin Lizzies and Hatfield Coupes and Brewster Town Cars, drive-ins are as iconic an American feature as hot dogs and apple pies. The number of theaters grew and the technology improved over the ensuing decades, with popularity peaking post-World War II. By 1958, upward of 5,000 theaters dotted the American landscape.
Then came the downfall, driven by the introduction of color television, home VCRs, video rentals, daylight savings time and the 1970s oil crisis. Throughout the next decade, theater owners found themselves caving to offers from developers of condos, shopping centers and big-box retailers. By the late 1980s, fewer than 200 drive in theaters remained open in the US and Canada.
Fast-forward to the 2000s, when nostalgia kicked in and drive-in theaters began to see a resurgence. Today, there are upward of 400 in operation and we here at E3 Spark Plugs couldn't be more thrilled. That's why we highly recommend Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie. This 85-minute documentary chronicles the story of the rise, fall and resurrection of this beloved cinematic icon. It's made the rounds of film festivals and now is available online.
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