Did you know that 83 years today the first drive-in movie theater opened on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey in 1933? That’s right. Park-In Theaters (later known as “drive-in theaters”) was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, a movie fan and a sales manager at his father’s company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden.
Hollingshead came up with the idea of an open-air theater where patrons watched movies in the comfort of their own automobiles. He then experimented in the driveway of his own house with different projection and sound techniques, mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, then pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested ways to guard against rain and other inclement weather, as well as devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that everyone would have a view of the screen. He patented his concept in May 1933 and opened the gates to his theater the next month.
According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, more than 75% of the drive-ins in this country are privately owned small businesses. Although indoor movie theaters are more flexible about scheduling and are designed to show multiple films under the same roof, it is estimated that there are still about 400 drive-ins that remain operational in the United States and about 100 drive-ins that exist outside of the U.S.A.
Of course, as with any movie, you had to have the concession stand treats, which consisted of our all time favorites: popcorn, candy, hot dogs and soda pop. If you have never experienced the thrill of watching a movie in the great outdoors at a drive-in theater, you must experience this outdoor leisure activity that your whole family can enjoy.