What movie was shown at the first drive-in?
Welcome to another Daily Doodle courtesy of "This Day in History". We were never much for watching movies in the theater... I'm not sure if it was the volume level, the over powering smell of popcorn, the big screen much too close to your face... or likely a combination, but our family just didn't care for movies... unless it was a drive-in. Hopefully you have had the opportunity to go to a drive-in movie. It was a treat for us as kids... my mom would load my siblings and our friends and me in the van and we'd get to bring snacks and all watch a movie.
On June 6, 1933, Richard Hollingshead opened the first theater for the auto-bound in Camden, New Jersey. People paid 25 cents per car as well as 25 cents per person (with a max price of $1) to see the British comedy, Wives Beware, a movie about a man in an unsatisfying marriage who fakes amnesia in his sly pursuit of extramarital adventures.
While the concept of an outdoor movie wasn't new, the idea of being able to watch it while in the comfort of your car was. It took an auto-parts salesman such as Hollingshead to see the genius in giving a car-loving society one more activity they could do in their vehicles.
He first conceived the drive-in as the answer to a problem. Jim Kopp of the United Drive-in Theatre Owners Association says, "His mother was—how shall I say it?—rather large for indoor theater seats, so he stuck her in a car and put a 1928 projector on the hood of the car, and tied two sheets to trees in his yard." And the concept was born.
Hollingshead experimented for a few years before he created a ramp system for cars to park at different heights so everyone could see the screen. He patented his concept in May 1933 and opened the gates to his theater the next month with an investment of $30,000.
The second drive-in, Shankweiler's, started a year later in Orefields, Pa. A few others followed, but the concept didn't really gain traction until the advent of in-car speakers in the early 1940s. By 1958, the number of drive-ins peaked at 4,063. One of the largest was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York, which featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid’s playground and a full service restaurant, all on a 28-acre lot.
Today, there are fewer than 500 drive-in theaters in the United States. So might I suggest if you haven't gone and want to, you better get to it. Support your local drive-in... they are going the way of the dinosaurs.