Friday, 12 July 2013

METRO DETROIT: Drive-Ins and Popcorn

This summer the all American drive-in movie theatre celebrates it's 80th birthday. How cool would it have been growing up going to movies in your car, ordering food or perhaps laying and watching from the roof? 

With their origin in the early 1930's, the first opening in Detroit in 1938, it wasn't until the 1950s and 1960s that they reached their peak popularity and by this stage there were over four thousand drive-in's across America. They were especially a hit with teenagers, becoming a popular destination place for dates. Inclement weather, color TV, video rentals and upgrading costs eventually led to the decline in the drive-in movie theatre and very few remain today.

Michigan Radio aired an interview earlier this week about this American invention which got me thinking about a now closed drive-in that we'd passed the other week. Opening in 1956, the Commerce Township drive-in had a capacity of over 1,000 until it's closure in 1990. Now only the sign remains, a modern car wash sign stuck right next to it, but behind the sign is where the screen originally would have stood. It's been interesting reading old comment forums about this particular drive-in, while it had a huge screen, bigger then neighbouring drive-in's, it's out of the way location was it's apparent downfall but it was great finding some vintage film advertisements mentioning the drive-in.

Original movie advertisements for the Commerce Drive-In (Source)

While predominately most drive-ins are closed across America a couple do still run, wouldn't it be so fun to go to one?


  1. I grew up going to drive-ins. We had a big family and it was cheaper and easier to load up the family, brings smacks and watch two movies for the price of one. Looks of great summer memories.

  2. I loved going to the drive-in movies and would today, if ours wasn't abandoned and left to the weeds and sagebrush. I love those old posters. Well, I was just out surfing the web when I found your site. I found it through pins of sewing projects. You must be like me and have many interests. Anyway, while I'm here let me invite you over to join my Give-A-Way. I'm having a little tour of my humble studio and a $25 Amazon gift card give away.
    Have a delightful weekend, I hope you can find an outdoor drive-in movie to enjoy.
    Connie :)

  3. I was lucky enough to live about 30 minutes away from a drive-in. We went a few times, and it was super lovely!