New drive-in theaters are popping up in Texas

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Jul 24, 2005.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

    74,215 Messages
    23,012 Likes Received

    Movies under the stars

    New drive-in theaters are popping up in Texas as crowds choose the classic outdoor venues over indoor multiplexes

    Associated Press

    GARRETT - Martin Murray wanted to build something straight out of the 1950s.

    So he cleared 30 acres of rural pasture off Interstate 45 about 20 miles south of Dallas and built his Galaxy Drive-In like a museum to a mostly extinct industry.

    Cars squeeze between poles tethered with speaker boxes, and campy, vintage commercials rescued from Hitchcock-era reels roll before the main feature.

    "I wanted to take people back to a simpler time," Murray said. "You hit 1958 once you enter our driveway."

    Probably a lot of traffic, too. 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.

    Old concept, new movies

    Palmer would know. He opened his single-screen theater about 40 miles west of Waco in 1955, when watching films on a big screen under the stars was the eminent choice for moviegoers.

    According to, there were as many as 4,063 drive-ins across the nation in 1958. Texas peaked with 388 in 1955 and now has 18.

    Only about 420 drive-ins remain nationwide, but of those about 40 are theaters built since 1990. In Texas, at least seven have either opened, reopened or added screens within the past two years.

    The concept of drive-ins may be retro, but the films aren't. Galaxy changes its kitschy, giant roadside marquee — complete with scrolling lights and intentionally crooked lettering — every two weeks to promote its latest batch of releases.

    At the recent premiere of War of the Worlds at Galaxy, lines snaked around the concession stand while families reclined in folding chairs propped in the beds of pickups. Most played the film's audio through car stereos instead of using the antique speakers, which Martin Murray understands — even though he's driven upward of 1,500 miles to buy the hard-to-find relics from abandoned and failed drive-ins.

    Fun at a discount

    Charles Kellis, a 38-year-old security-firm owner, said War of the Worlds was his family's 20th or so trip to Galaxy since the theater opened in December.

    Like most parked around him, Kellis said he prefers drive-ins because of the atmosphere, nostalgia and concession prices. Hot dogs cost $1.25, and soft drinks are less than $1. Kellis said he spent $80 the last time he took his family of five to a multiplex. Galaxy costs him less than half that.

    "You get more family time out here," Kellis' wife, Carolyn, said. "Plus you get more space to relax, and no one is telling you to be quiet."

    Some drive-ins also offer beer, hamburgers, cotton candy and funnel cakes at their concession stands. Such choices, along with first-run movies at affordable prices, is what keeps customers coming back, the owners said.

    And it's the novelty of drive-ins that lure a younger crowd, said Everett Bryant, co-owner of the new Central Texas Drive-In Theater in Killeen.

    "People are attracted because it's something new," Bryant said. "There's a whole generation of people who have never been to a drive-in."

    Risky investment pays off

    Bryant helps run the single-screen theater at night, but during the day he cuts hair at a barbershop with the drive-in's five other owners. The six each put $20 a day into a pot for one year after deciding to partner in an investment. When the stash grew to about $150,000, they chose to take a gamble on a seasonal, fun business.

    "It was just a risk we had to take," Bryant said.

    Palmer said being one of the few drive-ins in the state has helped his theater survive since the 1950s. His rule of thumb is there's room for only one drive-in within a 100-mile radius — a comfort zone the Central Texas Drive-In has now invaded.

    "I would hate to see it saturated to the point where it's hurting each other," Palmer said. "If we get overpopulated again, someone's going to have to close."

    But Murray isn't worried. He and his wife have been in the business since 1992, when an expensive trip to see Home Alone inspired the couple to build drive-ins in North and South Carolina.

    Texas, they say, is their most promising location yet.

    "I just like walking through the lots, looking at everything," Martin Murray said. "To be honest, I built this for me more than anything else."

    [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif][size=-2][font=verdana,arial,helvetica,ms sans-serif][size=-1]WHERE TO GO[/size][/font]

    Drive-in theaters in Texas:
    •Apache Drive-In, Tyler
    •Big Sky Drive-In, Midland
    •Brazos Drive-In, Granbury
    •Corral Drive-In, San Saba
    •Crossroads Drive-In, Shiner
    •Galaxy Drive-In, Garrett
    •Fiesta Drive-In, El Paso
    •Graham Drive-In, Graham
    •Central Texas Drive-In, Killeen
    •Last Drive-In Picture Show, Gatesville
    •Santikos Mission 4 Drive-In, San Antonio
    •Sandell Drive-In, Clarendon
    •Sky Vue Drive-In, Lamesa
    •Stars & Stripes Drive-In, Lubbock
    •Tascosa Drive-In, Amarillo
    •Town & Country Drive-In, Abilene
    •Tower Drive-In, Rule
    •Wes-Mer Drive-In, Mercedes

  2. jman

    jman Well-Known Member

    1,766 Messages
    25 Likes Received
    Oh man, I grew up going to the Astro Drive-in. I loved going to the movies then.
  3. Kangaroo

    Kangaroo Active Member

    9,893 Messages
    0 Likes Received
    That article hurts a lot. I remember when Star Wars was playing on the original drive in theaters in Killeen and Harker Heights there where 2 total in that area and I remember when they closed.:eek:

    I also went to the last drive in theater in Houston and it's very last showing which was the movie My Girl. :shootfoot

    Man I am getting old
  4. Payton34Smith22

    Payton34Smith22 Active Member

    1,481 Messages
    11 Likes Received
    I loved going to drive in theaters when I was a kid. We had 2 here where I live, but they have been closed down for like 20 years now, or longer.

    Two minutes to showtime....still plenty of time to visit our refreshment stand!

    I loved the intermission ads lol.

    I wish we still had some here. Lot's of good memories WG....Lot's of good memories, great thread! :thumbup:
  5. silverbear

    silverbear Semi-Official Loose Cannon

    24,188 Messages
    1 Likes Received
    If the Fiesta Drive-In in El Paso is the same one, it's a double screen number, my family used to go there when I was like 12 and my brother was 10... and when my folks came down to visit me my first year at UTEP, they went and saw "Paint Your Wagon" there for old times' sake (I was otherwise occupied with my girlfriend at the time)...

    Talk about a trip down Memory Lane... I wonder how those movies would sound routed through my Pioneer/Inifinity stereo system in my Jeep??
  6. CowboyPrincess

    CowboyPrincess Priceless

    4,615 Messages
    14 Likes Received
    •Big Sky Drive-In, Midland
    •Brazos Drive-In, Granbury
    •Corral Drive-In, San Saba
    •Central Texas Drive-In, Killeen
    •Last Drive-In Picture Show, Gatesville
    •Town & Country Drive-In, Abilene

    They are literally all around me, but not in my town... I hope they get the one here back up and running. I had some great times while growing up and getting to go to the drive-in with my parents. RC Cola w/ peanuts, pop corn, juju fruit, hotdogs and watching Bambi and Herbie the love bug. Back then, you got 2 movies. Usually a family movie for the younger kids to start it off and then a movie for the older folks.

    Then there were the teenager years at the drive in... humm... I think I'll keep those to myself
  7. Cbz40

    Cbz40 The Grand Poobah

    31,365 Messages
    2 Likes Received
    Hope we get one in our's been along time since I've done some smoochin at the drive in.
  8. k19

    k19 Active Member

    2,961 Messages
    7 Likes Received
    Dirty old man :eek:

    sup Pops :D
  9. trickblue

    trickblue Not Old School...Old Testament...

    30,390 Messages
    1,616 Likes Received
    hmmm... The Apache Drive-In in Tyler only shows XXX movies...

    and it's a place where swinger couples go to... well... ummm... swing...

    You tryin' to tell us sumpthin' WG?
  10. Kangaroo

    Kangaroo Active Member

    9,893 Messages
    0 Likes Received
  11. cowboys4life

    cowboys4life Member

    895 Messages
    0 Likes Received
    galaxy drive in is right around where i live...ive seen a couple movies there..its nice to go old it suceeds
  12. Dawgs0916

    Dawgs0916 Will the Thrill

    2,194 Messages
    4 Likes Received
    I just went to the drive in theatre in Killeen last night lol, it was sweet.
  13. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Backwoods Sexy Staff Member

    68,150 Messages
    15,527 Likes Received
    I thought it was cool that you could watch 2 movies for the price of one...and even though the first one was a stinker and the second one was the one you really went to see....on occasion the first turned out to be the good one lol.

    Another good thing about drive-ins that sucks in the theater now....people with cell phones and babies crying are not right in front of you or behind you....because you are in your car baby.

    Although it used to suck when you would be waiting all week for a weekend show and then you get there and ten minutes into the movie it starts pouring down the rain and you can't see the screen very good.
  14. jman

    jman Well-Known Member

    1,766 Messages
    25 Likes Received
    Ahhh, memories of the good ole' Lone Star Drive-in...

Share This Page