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TOPIC: How many drive-in theatres are there?

How many drive-in theatres are there? 27 Aug 2007 14:51 #15901

  • Mike
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How many active driv-in theatres are there?

Michael Hurley
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Michael Hurley
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Re: How many drive-in theatres are there? 27 Aug 2007 16:20 #15902

  • Transit Drive in
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There are somewhere close to 390-400 drive-in theatres still in operation. Drive-ins are closing each year as developers get their greedy hands on the property to build more profitable businesses.

For every newly built drive-in that opens each year, another five or so bite the dust, mainly due to the value of the property being greater than the return generated by the drive-in business.

The existing drive-ins that do not stand on highly assessed commercial real estate are still doing very well. Due to suburban sprawl, drive-ins which used to be on the outskirts of town 20-50 years ago, evolved into prime commerical real estate today.

My drive-in theatre is located on the fringe of a high traffic transportation corridor that is becoming more and more attractive to developers. If there is no more developement within 2-3 of my location, that would be fine by me.

Unforunately, sprawl and greed will probably make it more difficult for me each year to continue to operatethe drive-in, as more commercial projects sprout up around my property.

Time is an unstoppable force, which brings about changes that are not always for the good of the community. Drive-ins are a precious commodity that are not easy to replace or relocate. Most people will never know what attedning a drive-in is like, unless they are fortunate enough to have one of the few remaining "ozoners" close to home.

Any exhibitor who has the ability to build a new drive-in, or reopen one that is closed, will have the satisfaction of doing something good for the community that is a very special and unique experience.

Rick Cohen
Transit Drive-in Theatre
Lockport, New York
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: How many drive-in theatres are there? 27 Aug 2007 17:21 #15903

  • rodeojack
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Rick's comments could be echoed by most in our business. I'm fortunate to have a location that adjoins a city watershed, so there likelihood of developmental pressure isn't on the near horizon. Still, I've seen many of our state's drive-ins close for the very reasons that Rick mentions. As you can imagine, property in the Seattle-Tacoma area is valued to the point that reserving 5-50 acres for a drive-in would be insanity to most developers. There's a 6-plex in that area that's been near the developmental chopping block for nearly 15 years, yet every year they open up and think they'll have another 2 or 3 to go... heckuvaway to do business.

Drive-ins CAN be financially rewarding. However, I don't know anyone who's made an instant killing. So far as I've seen over the past 35 years or so, they've all taken a fair to obsessive amount of care and feeding. Not many owners get away with making a drive-in their sole source of income, at least not for some time. Still, it is a lot of fun, if you do get hooked on it... and many do.
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Re: How many drive-in theatres are there? 29 Aug 2007 09:23 #15904

  • Barry Floyd
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I'll agree with both Transit and RodeoJack. The drive-ins around my area never became un-popular... they became un-profitable. The former Sumner Drive-In in Gallatin, Tennessee closed back in September of 1998, and the family of the deceased owner sold the land which the theatre sat on for commerical development for several million dollars.

My little twin screen drive-in just turned 4 years old on Monday night, and it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me and my wife. The huge ($800k) expense of construction, along with the mortgage payments that go with it, combined with payroll, taxes, operating costs, etc. is almost overwhelming. I took Transit's advise a couple of years ago and added a second screen as fast as we could. That second screen increased our business by 40%. We should break even for the first time this year, if not it'll be really close. Like many drive-in owners... we're "fat-n-happy" in the summer, and "starving" in the winter. I do have a "day job" that I'm not about to give up any time soon.

We were the first folks in Tennessee to build a new drive-in since the late 1960's early 70's, when we opened in 2003. Since then 3 other brand new drive-in's have opened in Tennessee and I only know of 2 to close within that same period of time.

Unlike many drive-in's located out on the outskirts of town along the highway, we are right in the middle of an industrial park. Our town built the industrial park back in the mid 1980's hoping to attract businesses, factories, etc... unfortunately for them.. no one showed up. Our 15 acre parcel the drive-in now sits on was vacant, covered in a dense cedar growth, and the city was eager to sell it. Since then, there have been several warehouse type buildings built in the park, but their operation doesn't affect our business, and ours doesn't affect theirs. It's doubtful that urban sprawl and commercial growth will be encroaching on us anytime soon. If or when we ever sell our place, it cannot ever be used for a drive-in theatre or a facility to exhibit motion pictures for commercial purposes for a period of 25 years from the date of sale. We put a covenant clause in our deed when we bought the place to insure that the work we've
done cannot be picked up by anyone else and profited from.

[This message has been edited by Barry Floyd (edited August 29, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by Barry Floyd (edited August 29, 2007).]
Barry Floyd
Floyd Entertainment Group
Lebanon, Tennessee

Stardust Drive-In Theatre
Watertown, Tennessee
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Re: How many drive-in theatres are there? 29 Aug 2007 13:58 #15905

  • Transit Drive in
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Barry Floyd:
I took Transit's advise a couple of years ago and added a second screen as fast as we could. That second screen increased our business by 40%.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Barry-

I'm still waiting for my consultant's fee!! LOL

Glad to hear things are going well. You'll be well into the black once your debt service is paid down. Getting that monkey off your back will make a world of difference.

Rick



[This message has been edited by Transit Drive in (edited August 29, 2007).]
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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