Content of the material
- Comic Books
- Iowa Drive-ins
- 61 Drive-in
- Blue Grass Drive-in Theater
- Superior 71 Drive-in
- Valle Drive-in Theater
- The Drive-In Patent
- Rhode Island Drive-ins
- Misquamicut Drive-In Theater
- Rustic Tri-View Drive-in Theatre
- Take the Next Step
- Find a business mentor
- Learn from other business owners
- Resources to Help Women in Business
- What are some insider tips for jump starting a drive-in movie theater?
- How and when to build a team
- General Information
- Tales Of The Starlight Drive In, an award-winning graphic novel written by Michael Sangiacomo, is an anthology of stories set at a single drive-in over 53 years.
- An issue of Hsu and Chan had the characters head off to a drive-in and getting caught up in a money making scheme of an old movie anniversary.
1228 U.S Hwy 61
Delmar, IA 52037
The 61 is a small drive-in theater located in Eastern Iowa. The digital single-screen outdoor theater has room for just over 150 cars.
Blue Grass Drive-in Theater
774 W Mayne St
Blue Grass, IA 52726
The Blue Grass Drive-In opened in 2014. The drive-in is located in the quad city area and hosts 4 screens. The Blue Grass is going for a modern vibe, even offering private theater boxes to patrons.
Superior 71 Drive-in
1482 300th Ave
Spirit Lake, IA 51360
The Superior 71 is located on an open farm field in Spirit Lake, Iowa. They originally opened in 2008 with one screen but later expanded to twin-screens. They are open seasonally and play double features.
Valle Drive-in Theater
4074 Highway F48
Newton, IA 50208
The Valle is Iowa’s oldest remaining drive-in theater. They have a single screen that lights up with double features seasonally.
The Drive-In Patent
The first U.S. patent for a drive-in theater was #1,909,537, issued on May 16, 1933 to Hollingshead. He opened his first drive-in on Tuesday June 6, 1933 with an investment of $30,000. It was located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey and the price of admission was 25 cents for the car, plus 25 cents per person.
Rhode Island Drive-ins
Misquamicut Drive-In Theater
316 Atlantic Ave
Westerly, RI 02891
If you are visiting Rhode Island during the Summer or early Fall, Misquamicut Drive-In theater is a great place to catch a flick. This drive-in has been open since 2013 and is currently host to one screen.
Rustic Tri-View Drive-in Theatre
1195 Eddie Dowling Highway Route 146 South
North Smithfield, RI 02896
For a little vintage nostalgia in the state of Rhode Island, visit the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In. The Rustic Tri-View is a trio-screen drive-in that is open seasonally.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a drive-in movie theater?
Build your business plan with the understanding that you may be running a seasonal business. Drive-ins operate generally between April and October in northern locations, as the costs of removing snow and weather make operating in the winter exorbitant. Think about other ways to use your property during the daytime such as classic car shows, flea markets or running charitable events for schools and community organizations. Join organizations such as North American Theater Owners to expand your contacts with distributors and vendors.
Is it better to pave the parking lot? Having a paved space for your drive-in theater is preferable for a number of reasons. Not only will it hold up much better to the constant traffic and the elements, it will also reduce dirt, dust, and mud accumulation. Some localities require paved surfaces. Be sure to check with your local zoning authorities to see what is required.
How large does the screen need to be? Modern movies are produced in two different aspect ratios: widescreen/flat (1.85:1) and scope (2.39:1). Because drive-in theaters do not have moveable screen masking to adjust by film the way indoor theaters do, you will want to build a screen somewhere between these two ratios. Many drive-in theaters use a ratio between 2.0:1 and 2.2:1. A typical drive-in screen is between 50 and 100 feet wide. Once you’ve chosen your width you will base the height on your chosen dimensions.
Screen height is also important. A drive-in screen should be at least 15 feet from the ground depending on the lay of your land. Watching drive-in movies from the back of an SUV with its rear hatch open has become very common. This modern development requires higher screen heights to allow an unobstructed view.
Do I need to have angled parking in the lot? Achieving the correct parking angle to allow all patrons to have a clear view of your screen is an essential aspect of constructing a drive-in theater. To do so, ramps are almost always required. To determine how to construct the ramps you will need to understand what angle the cars across your space will need to be at in order for the screen to be in view for both front and rear seat passengers. This will depend on the natural slope of your land and the distance between the car and the screen. Building ramps is another major drive-in start-up expense.
How and when to build a team
About six weeks before you open, you will need to be in the process of hiring and training your projectionists, managers, and concession and lot attendants. You will want to line up a landscape and lot maintenance company and ensure you have technical support available for your projectors and business computers. You will have had to contact your film distributors six months ahead of time to ensure that you are in the pipeline to receive the blockbusters for your first customers.
How many staff do I need to hire? At a bare minimum, you will need to have employees to sell tickets and concessions, provide security, run the projector, and clean up after each showing. The exact size of your staff will depend on the number of patrons you host and the overall size of your operation.
- Gates open and tickets are sold at 6:30PM
- Admission: $10 ages 13 and up
- Admission: $5 ages 6 – 12
- Admission: Free ages 5 and under
- Friday’s Carload Night: $20 per carload
- CASH ONLY – Credit Cards not accepted
- Tune your radio to 87.9 FM
- Food deliveries are not accepted at the premises
- No grills allowed