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In Memory of ‘Outdoor Movie Pioneer’ Anthony Rudman

Anthony Rudman Sr.

Tony Rudman, founder of Utah’s Westates Theatres chain, has died. He was 84.

The cinema chain was once the largest in the West and continues to operate more than 70 screens in four states.

Rudman died Aug. 6, six days short of his 85th birthday, after suffering a fall outside his home, said his son, T.J. Rudman.

“He’s a self-made man, and extremely successful, and he worked very, very hard,” the younger Rudman said of his father.

Rudman was born Aug. 12, 1925, in Scofield, Utah. He started working at age 12, herding sheep. He made enough money to pay for his own tuition at Wasatch Academy when he was 15.

At 17, he enlisted with four other Carbon County boys in the United States Marine Corps. They served in the Pacific in World War II, in the first wave of troops in Tarawa and Saipan. Rudman was wounded, taking shell fragments in his legs that remained for the rest of his life. He was the only one of that Carbon County group to survive the war.

Rudman got into the movie business in the 1950s as a film runner, getting paid $25 a week. He then worked as a film buyer for RKO Pictures and later started his own film buying and booking service. In 1958, he bought his first theater, the Davis Drive-In in Layton.

Among the theaters Rudman had a hand in opening were the Water Gardens Cinema in Pleasant Grove, the Tooele Cinema 6 in Tooele and the now-defunct Trolley Theatres and Trolley Corners multiplexes near downtown Salt Lake City.

The Westates chain now operates the Holladay Cinema 6 in Salt Lake City, the Tooele theater, three multiplexes in Logan, two in Cedar City and five in St. George — as well as theaters in Page, Ariz., Elko and Mesquite, Nev., and Montpelier, Idaho.

Rudman was a hands-on business owner. “He knew every nail, he knew every projector, he knew every sound system,” his son said. “He never missed a paycheck, never missed paying one of his employees.”

Rudman married Shirley Ernstsen in 1946, and they had two children: Shonnie Kay and Tony Jay. Shirley died in 1964.

Besides his children, Rudman is survived by eight grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, his longtime companion Leone Clyde, and his only sibling, his brother Joseph Rudman.

A memorial service is set for 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, what would have been his 85th birthday, at the Holladay Cinema 6, 1945 E. Murray-Holladay Road (4795 South), Salt Lake City. A graveside service is scheduled for noon at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park, 3401 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City.

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Salt Lake City, Utah: Open Air Cinema hosts Outdoor Movie at NRPA Convention

This past Wednesday, Open Air Cinema and Swank Motion Pictures hosted a free screening of Transformers 2 at the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA) national congress in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The screening was a blast, and everyone really enjoyed watching the movie on the huge 30′ screen. It was really great because everyone was able to see the screening on a brand-new system.  The sound was amazing, and the projection was stunning.  National Parks and Recreation administrators from all over the place came to see the screening: Alabama, Texas, Utah, California, New York, Colorado, Arizona, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and many other places.  Here is an excerpt of a review from io9:

“Critical consensus on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is overwhelmingly negative. But the critics are wrong. Micheal Bay used a squillion dollars and a hundred supercomputers’ worth of CG for a brilliant art movie about the illusory nature of plot.

Oh, and I would warn you that there’ll be spoilers in this review — except that, really, since I still have no idea what actually happened in this movie, I’m not sure how much I can spoil it.

Since the days of Un Chien Andalou and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari filmmakers have reached beyond meaning. But with this summer’s biggest, loudest movie, Michael Bay takes us all the way inside Caligari’s cabinet. And once you enter, you can never emerge again. I saw this movie two days ago, and I’m still living inside it. Things are exploding wherever I look, household appliances are trying to kill me, and bizarre racial stereotypes are shouting at me.

Transformers: ROTF has mostly gotten pretty hideous reviews, but that’s because people don’t understand that this isn’t a movie, in the conventional sense. It’s an assault on the senses, a barrage of crazy imagery. Imagine that you went back in time to the late 1960s and found Terry Gilliam, fresh from doing his weird low-fi collage/animations for Monty Python. You proceeded to inject Gilliam with so many steroids his penis shrank to the size of a hair follicle, and you smushed a dozen tabs of LSD under his tongue. And then you gave him the GDP of a few sub-Saharan countries. Gilliam might have made a movie not unlike this one.”


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Centreville, Virginia: Fairfax County's Starlight Cinema Presents Outdoor Movies at the Drive-In

Outdoor Movies at the Drive-In at Centreville, VirginiaFairfax County is offering an opportunity to watch family-friendly outdoor movies like you used to: *gasp!* from inside your car. “Starlight Cinema” may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some of you younger folks so don’t miss out. Each Saturday night this month the parking lot of the Trinity Office Building in Centreville is transformed into a drive-in movie theater, screening films such as Kung Fu Panda and Hotel for Dogs. This Saturday (Aug. 22) you can see The Tale of Despereaux, about a young mouse (voice of Matthew Broderick) with comically oversize ears on a quest to earn the affections of a beautiful princess. Drive-in early to get a good parking spot. Gates open at 6pm and the movie will begin at dark. Oh, and did we mention this outdoor cinema event is FREE? There’s no good reason not to go. Pack up the family for a fun night out and unique opportunity to see a movie under the stars.

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Fond du Lac, Wisconsin: Fond du Lac Parks and Recreation Hosts Drive-In Outdoor Movie Night

Drive-In Outdoor Movies in Fond du Lac, WisconsinLast Thursday, the Fond du Lac Parks and Recreation department had a “Back to School” welcoming celebration. In the parking lot of the Fond du Lac high school, they hosted an old-fashioned drive-in, this time with a portable inflatable movie screen. Event organizers really wanted to create a unique and nostalgic outdoor cinema experience that the whole family could enjoy to bring in the new school year. They even set up a concessions stand with hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, candy, slushies and sodas. The movie shown was the blockbuster hit Hotel for Dogs. The turnout was very good for this family-friendly event, and event organizers hope that students are excited for the new school year. We know the parents are.

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Los Angeles, California: Classic Horror Films Screened at the Hollywood Drive-In Movie Theater

Outdoor Movies at the Hollywood Drive-InThink the drive-in is dead? Not in Hollywood! Though it may not be a permanent fixture, Hollywood MobMov in conjunction with the Steve Allen Theater created an impromptu drive-in movie theater earlier this summer. Each Friday night the parking lot of the theater would be devoted to the outdoor cinema, with films projected onto the theater wall. Films screened were not your typical family-friendly fare, as one of their most popular nights was the Masters of Horror Series. It was a double feature night with Suspiria, a well-loved 1977 Italian film by Dario Argento, considered a classic in the horror genre, and Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, a delightful 1974 “horror-thriller-comedy musical” starring Paul Williams. Actress Jessica Harper starred in both films and made a live appearance for a Q&A during the intermission.

And unlike many guerrilla drive-in theaters today, this was an actual drive-in: cars lined up and tuned their radio to a specific station to hear the audio. On that night of horror classics, the weather wasn’t perfect, but with everyone warm and snuggled up in their cars it didn’t matter. There should definitely be some more outdoor movies coming up in the near future, so sign up on the mailing list for Hollywood MobMov for notifications. This is guerrilla cinema unlike any other, and these days you don’t get many chances to see cult classics in the outdoors. Don’t miss your opportunity to see these awesome outdoor movies!

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Memphis, Tennessee: Summer Drive-In Has an Outdoor Movie History in Memphis, Tennesse

Photo Credit: Brad Luttrell/The Commercial Appeal

Photo Credit: Brad Luttrell/The Commercial Appeal

Light from the screens dances off the roofs of the scattered cars and sound echoes from auto stereo speakers. Summer Drive-In in Memphis, Tennessee is one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in the South. But where most of these outdoor movie theaters have dwindled away, Summer Drive-In continues to be one of the more beloved Memphis landmarks, and carries with it a colorful history of outdoor cinema.

James Lloyd has been a Malco Theaters (who owns Summer Drive-In) employee for 43 years, and has a passion for outdoor film.

“I been around the theater business practically all my life,” said Lloyd, who was a 14-year-old Arkansas farm boy when he made his first money at the movies by pushing a popcorn cart between the rows of cars at the old Starvue Drive-In in Blytheville (Memphis Commercial Appeal).

Lloyd was there when the Summer Drive-In first opened, on Sept. 1, 1966. The outdoor movie theater was boasted to be one of the most modern theaters of its time. Back then, drive-ins were huge; it was a part of Americana. They would screen B-movies or second-run films, but people continued to come in droves. They were there for the movie, yes, but there was something undeniably attractive about watching a movie under the stars. Something magical, and unique. Of course, the semi-private romance of the cars drew many a young couple to open air cinemas as well.

Lloyd actually lives at the Summer Drive-In, in a small apartment build alongside the projection room. When drive-ins where in their heyday, it was common to build living quarters alongside the screens, as theater managers usually worked long hours. In those days, outdoor movie theaters were built in huge fields with very little nearby in the way of buildings or lights, and the stars created a sparking canopy over the drive-in.
As we all know, most of the drive-ins that were once so popular have now disappeared. Though there has been some decline in popular interest, a large reason behind the closings was due to rising real estate values. Much of that land has now been turned into malls, housing developments, and swap meets.

For those drive-ins still remaining, changes have been made, but many are for the better. Most now play first-run blockbusters instead of the B-movies they used to play. Today, Lloyd can watch Johnny Depp in “Public Enemies” from one of his apartment windows, and Harry Potter from another. Movie-goers have their choice of popular films with three different outdoor movie screens, and nights with double or even triple-features.
On weekends the Summer Drive-In draws 1,600 cars who utilize FM radios for audio to the films, instead of the old-fashioned speakers that hang on car windows.

Across the hallway from the doorway to Lloyd’s apartment is the Summer projection room. Using incredibly bright light bulbs of 6,000 to 7,000 watts each, the projectors “throw” the image hundreds of feet through the air; Screen 3, the most distant (and largest, at 118-by-54 feet), is 730 feet from the booth.

The drive-in originally opened 365 days a year, but is now only open during the summer, and then Fridays and Saturdays the rest of the year. Admission is $7 a person, but kids under 10 are free, so the Summer Drive-In is a popular hot spot for family-friendly entertainment. You see less passionate teenagers and more carloads of kids.

Some outdoor movie attendees are long-time fans. There are people who used to come to the drive-in as teenagers, and now they’re bringing their kids. Others are newer movie-goers. Lloyd’s grandchildren love visiting their Grandpa; Lloyd piles them in his old Buick and they drive a few hundred feet to park in front of a giant screen and watch a movie together.

Clint Pratt, 38, and his daughters, Taylor, 11, and Shea, 8, were making their first trip to the drive-in since the Pratts moved here from Orlando 11 years ago.

“I thought it was closed down,” he said, until he learned differently from a friend. “I think it’s really cool,” said Taylor, sitting on the open tailgate of the family’s Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, parked so the rear of the vehicle faced the screen.

“It’s paying its way,” Lloyd said of the Summer. He said the drive-in is here to stay, despite some efforts by Malco in recent years to sell the land.

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Hamptons, New York: From the Drive-In to the Art Gallery, See Outdoor Films in the Hamptons, New York

Outdoor Movies in the Hamptons, New YorkWhat is it about outdoor movies that make them so alluring? Despite massive multi-plex theaters putting drive-ins out of business, people still feel drawn to outdoor venues for movie-watching. Movie theaters provide a completely enclosed, climate-controlled environment, with the audio reverberating off the walls, and darkness cocooning the glowing screen. With stadium seating, digital projection, and other technological luxuries theater owners have worked tirelessly to create the ultimate movie-going experience. Yet people continually return to parks and parking lots to watch outdoor movies among the stars and mosquitoes.

Where the theater isolates the viewer to an almost intimate movie-watching experience, outdoor movies thrust the audience into a community experience. Ambient light from streetlights and the moon draws the film and audience into a symbiotic environment. A train passing in the distance becomes part of the background, and the audience around you becomes part of the story.

As the warm summertime weather lingers, outdoor movies continue to pop up under the moonlight. The Hamptons area in New York has a variety of outdoor cinema screenings to offer, from kids movies in the park to evocative art gallery installations.

Outdoor Movies for Family Fun

Outdoor Movies in the Hamptons, New YorkFor free family fun, Southampton Town screens movies in the park each Monday night, at 9pm. The films are always family-fare, for a very cheap night out that’s fun for parents and kids alike.

This Monday you can see “Bedtime Stories” on the Great Lawn in Westhampton Beach. If that is a great location for you, you can look forward to more outdoor films on Aug. 3 and Aug. 17.

The Quogue Wildlife Refuge continues its family film series, “Movies Under the Stars,” on two Wednesdays, August 12 and 19. Admission is $4 per person. For information, visit

Modern-Day Drive-In Movies

Though most drive-in the theaters are now dusty relics of the past, many people look upon those old theaters with a fondness. Therefore, there are a few outdoor cinema events taking place around the Hamptons that aim to bring us back to an older time. The Southampton Chamber of Commerce will be holding outdoor cinema screenings to recreate the drive-in experience. At the Elks Grounds in Southampton, there will be room for cars to park and view the film from there, or movie-goers can spread out blankets and chairs to watch the movie outside their cars. The proceeds from the movies will go towards the Chamber’s building expansion fund. On July 23 you can see “Bee Movie”, and “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” will screen on July 28. If you want to watch from your car like the old drive-in days, it’ll cost a whopping $40, and $25 to park away from the screen and watch the movie from a blanket or beach chair –but remember, this is all going towards a good cause! People will start arriving around 7pm and the movie starts at dark. For reservations and more information, visit

Drive-In Movies in the Hamptons, New YorkAnother flashback to the drive in will be presenting the Star Wars original trilogy in 3 separate installments. The first installment, “Star Wars: Episode 4—A New Hope” was shown last night at Maidstone Park in East Hampton. Screenings continue on August 20 (“The Empire Strikes Back”) and September 11 (“Return of the Jedi”). Admission is $10 for adults and $5 per child. Most of the younger generation never got to see these awesome films on the big screen, so this is an outdoor film opportunity you won’t want to miss. Visit for more information.

Along the same retro-nostalgic lines, classic 80’s movies will be shown at the outdoor amphitheater at the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) in Bridgehampton. The outdoor movies are presented by East Hampton Rotary and Hamptons Drive-In. On July 30 they will screen “Back to the Future”, and August 13 is “Ghostbusters”. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 per child. Movies begin at 8:30 p.m. Visit for more information about these present-day drive-in movie screenings.

If that wasn’t enough 80’s films for you, you can also see “Goonies” on August 11 at “Films on the Lawn”, the outdoor movie series held at The Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton. This outdoor film will begin at 8pm. Admission is $7 for adults and a $5 suggested donation per child and benefits Camp Karole. Visit for more info.

Outdoor Films as Art Installations

Outdoor Films in the Hamptons, New YorkVarious art galleries and other art venues are including outdoor movies with, or as a part of, their current installations. For example, you can see classic outdoor films at the Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton. They are free each Friday. The films are shown on a beautiful grassy field, spotted with hay bales. The field has a slight slope which is perfect to allow everyone a good view of the screen. Silas Marder has chosen to show classic films in order to give them a proper venue. Classic films are rarely seen anymore, though they are some of the best films ever made.

The 10-week series of classic films is tied together with the theme “Dissent”. Tonight’s film is “Dr. Strangelove”; the following weeks will screen “Some Like it Hot”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, and “The French Connection”. More information about the gallery and the beautiful outdoor film venue can be found at

Also at the Silas Marder Gallery, outdoor films are being utilized in their current art show. A short, animated film depicts a whale swimming through blue waters. “Giganticism”, as it has been named, is screened in the gallery barn. And at the exhibition opening last week they screened a documentary onto the side of a box truck. It was the 1977 documentary film, “The Powers of Ten,” and was very popular with visitors to the gallery. Prior exhibitions have included looping video installed in a hedgerow (“Beasties” by Barry Anderson) and large-scale film or image projections onto the outer walls of the towering barn that contains the gallery. Silas Marder enjoys using film as an art form, and presenting it in unique and unexpected ways, such as the outdoor screenings on various buildings or surfaces.

Another intriguing art gallery incorporating outdoor films is Gallery BelAge in Westhampton. The gallery focuses on work by untrained or amateur artists, providing a venue for art that may not fit into conventional arenas. As a part of this theme, the gallery hosts an outdoor film series called “Outsider Art” in their front courtyard. The indie films are easily visible from Main Street, and draws passerbys to the gallery. Similarly, it draws attention these films which are too obscure to be seen elsewhere. July 25 will screen a short film on East Moriches artist Peter Marbury (1939-2009) made by his son, Sebastian as well as a full-length film, “In the Realms of the Unreal—The Mystery of Henry Darger.” On August 29 you can see “Jean Michel Basquiat: Downtown 81,” a fictitious day-in-the-life of Basquiat that taps into the raw creative energy of the 1970s. Visit for more info.

The Hamptons certainly seems to be inundated with outdoor movies during this summer season, but don’t let them pass you by. I love seeing art galleries displaying outdoor films in such an unusual and interesting way, and with free movies in the park and retro drive-in movies, there’s something for everyone.

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Cranbrook, British Columbia: Drive-In Movie and Car Show in Cranbrook, Canada

Photo Credit: Mopars in the Mountains

Photo Credit: Mopars in the Mountains

This Saturday a car show and outdoor movie will be held in Cranbrook, British Columbia. It’s going to be a whole flashback to the drive-in days with classic cars and the appropriately-paired outdoor cinema screening of American Graffiti. The car show and outdoor movie on an inflatable screen is presented by Southern Mopar Owners Group (SMOG). The “Mopars in the Mountains” car show has occurred in the past but they are trying to make it even bigger and better than past years.

“Moir Park is a gorgeous spot for a car show,” said Mike Stanko, one of the organizers. “We offer a nice show on a large grassy field with a beautiful view of the mountains. The view is absolutely breathtaking.” (BC Local News).

Here is all the info you need to know:

If you want to show your own classic car, you’ll need to register on Friday at the Lordco parking lot.

From 11am to 4pm on Saturday the car show will take place along with a swap meet.

Afterword, there will be an awards show and $10 dinner.

The drive-in movie begins at 9pm and costs $5 per person, but kids get in free.

You can watch the movie from your car drive-in style, or sit on the grass or bleachers in front of the inflatable screen.

It should be a pretty cool event so be sure to come out, even if you don’t have a spiffy car to show off. American Graffiti is a classic car show film and a good choice for their outdoor movie presentation. From what I understand, the Mopars in the Mountains Car Show has been pretty popular in past years so be sure to get there early to stake out a good spot for the drive in movie.

For updated information, visit

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Sag Harbor, New York: Retro Outdoor Cinemas Make a Comeback in Sab Harbor, New York

Photo Credit: The Sag Harbor Express

Photo Credit: The Sag Harbor Express

Nostalgia for movies under the stars has brought about a comeback in outdoor cinema, reports The Sag Harbor Express. Sag Harbor residents wistfully recall memories of visiting local drive-in movie theaters, such as the Whitestone Drive-In, or the Bridgehampton Drive-In. The drive-in theaters have since disappeared, but due to a number of factors, outdoor movies seem to be returning in updated forms.

“There’s nothing like it — you can’t beat it,” says a Smithtown resident who remembers going to many a drive-in. “It was just fabulous. When I was in fourth grade, my parents took us to see ‘Psycho.’ They thought we’d sleep, but we were awake and peeking over the backseat. It’s stayed with me. I took a shower last night and I thought, ‘I didn’t lock the door!’”

One reason outdoor movies may be making a comeback is because the equipment and technology has finally caught up with the demand. Drive-in theaters were often characterized by fuzzy screens and scratchy audio squawking through the window. But outdoor movies -drive in 2.0- can now be shown on giant inflatable screens and projected with theatrical-grade equipment. State-of-the-art audio/visual systems can create an outdoor cinema experience that rivals most multi-plex movie theaters. Though many of the outdoor movies these days are screened in parks or downtown areas with blankets and lawn chairs, some people are still organizing real drive-ins, such as the Southampton Chamber of Commerce drive-in movie night at the Elks Grounds on County Road 39 this month (“Madagascar Escape 2 Africa” is scheduled for July 23). Audio from the movie can be tuned in on an FM radio, although people are welcome to spread out blankets or chairs instead of staying in their cars.

Silas Marder, in Bridgehampton, also screens movies under the stars. “There’s a sense of camaraderie, everyone applauded at the end when we showed ‘The Graduate’ last week.” he says. “There’s something about being outside with the moonlight, the garden — it’s this classic Hamptons experience. People are looking for something real.”

Outdoor Movies in the Sag Harbor, New York Area

Movies at Marder’s
120 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton, 702-2306

“Dr. Strangelove” July 17
“The Adventures of Robin Hood” July 24
“Jules and Jim” July 31
“Some Like it Hot” August 7
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” August 14
“The French Connection” August 21
“Casablanca” August 28

Southampton Chamber of Commerce “Drive-In Movie”
Southampton Elks Ground, 605 County Road 39A, Southampton

“Madagascar Escape 2 Africa” July 23

Outdoor Movie Night at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons
44 Woods Lane, East Hampton

“Goonies” July 14

‘80s Classics at the Children’s Museum
376 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton

“Big” July 9
“Back to the Future” July 30
“Ghostbusters” August 13

Southampton Town’s “Movies in The Park”
Westhampton Beach Great Lawn -Monday, July 20, 8:30 p.m.
Long Beach, Sag Harbor -August 3, 8:30 p.m.
East Quogue’s Village Green -August 17, 8 p.m.

Read full article here: Reeling in Retro

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Henderson, North Carolina: Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre Features Drive-In Movies in Henderson, North Carolina

Drive-In Movies at an Outdoor Theater in Henderson, North CarolinaWe all need some time away from everyday worries. You might be looking for something a little different to do this July weekend. Why not try seeing a movie at an outdoor movie theater? Everyone loves a good drive-in movie to take the cares of this world away, if only for a couple hours.

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre in nearby Henderson originally opened as the “Moon-Glo” Theatre in 1949. Since that time, the theater has changed ownership several times. The current owners actually obtained the drive-in movie theater through an e-bay auction. They have completely renovated the restrooms, snack shop, and theater. The theater is now the oldest of only seven operating drive-in theaters in North Carolina.

The website tells what movies will be showing this weekend as well as upcoming movie selections. Also on Sat, July 4, Jim Passe will be at the theater at 7:30 performing magic, illusions, mind reading, and classic parlor tricks.

Source: “Activity for July 4th-outdoor theater” by Amy Pegram -Raleigh Examiner. Read full article at:–Miscarriage-Examiner~y2009m7d2-July-4-activity.

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Aurora, Illinois: Outdoor Movies Screened at the Skylark Drive-In Movie Theater in Aurora, Illinois

Outdoor Movies at the Skylark Drive-in in Aurora, IllinoisThe Aurora Historical Society has no record of the former Skylark drive-in theater in its files or in old city directories. Searches of archives of the Tribune and suburban newspapers turn up little.

But ask any longtime Aurora or Naperville resident about the giant-screen outdoor theater on the north side of East New York Street just west of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. tracks from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, and their stories unfold like chapters in a book.

John Phillip Chuck visited the drive-in during its early days, when it was called the Tee and See. The clever name matched the theater owners’ entrepreneurial creativity. Families came early to play the par 3 golf course while waiting for sunset.

When it finally got dark — and that it did because there was no other development on the country road — they headed back to their cars to watch the latest film, listening to audio from individual speakers attached to posts for each parking space.

Years later, when use of the golf course dropped off, theater owners closed it and renamed the place the Skylark. It still was a popular venue for families, who parked in the front so their children could enjoy the swing set under the screen.

But it also brought in teenagers like Bob Johnson, who loved the theater so much he didn’t mind his high school job of picking up its empty beer bottles, soda cups and popcorn boxes every weekend.

Johnson, 56, was at the Skylark the night Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969.

He remembers the way theater managers stopped the movie to play live radio coverage over the loudspeakers. After Neil Armstrong’s quote about “one giant leap for mankind,” moviegoers burst into an impromptu rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon,” he said.

“I remember sitting up there and looking at the moon and thinking, My gosh — there’s somebody up there right now!” said Johnson, who now lives in Eau Claire, Wis.

Years later, in the mid- to late ’70s, Chris Barry and his friends from Geneva would pack a cooler full of Pabst Blue Ribbon long-neck beer bottles and drive a half-hour to the theater in his green 1970 Chevrolet Nova. Barry and his friends loved the Skylark because it played horror films and action flicks with titles such as “They Call Her One Eye,” “Rabid” and “Devil Times Five.”

Barry, who now lives in Naperville, laughs recalling how he and his friends used to stop the car just down the street from the theater so friends could climb into the trunk. After the driver and passenger had paid for just two tickets, the others would resurface.

“You’d pay for like two people going in and then five guys would pop out of the trunk,” said Barry, who added that they did get caught once, and they gladly paid the owners instead of leaving. “The movies were too good to leave.”

Though the Skylark theater was beloved by its many regulars, interest in it and other drive-ins began to wane as indoor movie theaters evolved into the multiscreen cinemas we know today. The 20 drive-in theaters around the Chicago area during outdoor movies’ prime had shrunk to seven by 1987, according to Tribune archives.

The Skylark stopped showing movies in the late 1980s, but owners left up the screen and speakers, which became a popular target for graffiti and vandalism. Though the property was technically unincorporated Naperville Township and unincorporated DuPage County, passersby frequently complained to Aurora officials about the eyesore.

City officials worked with the owners to repaint the screen several times before they eventually sold the land, said Mark Anderson, assistant director of Aurora’s Department of Neighborhood Standards.

Years after he had visited the Tee and See as a kid, Chuck returned to the old drive-in property as an attorney at Dommermuth, Brestal, Cobine and West in Naperville. At the request of clients, he oversaw the property’s annexation into the City of Aurora.

The first buyer paid to remove the theater’s paving, fencing and speaker boxes, Anderson said. Around 2002 that buyer sold to a developer, Pulte Homes, which began building townhouses, Chuck said.

Today, the former Skylark property is the Madison Park townhouse development, which has several hundred units and little trace of its cinematic past, Anderson said.

No matter. Bob Johnson kept the picture of Skylark so fresh in his head that he and his wife took their own children to drive-in movies when they started their family.

“They had a great time, just like we did,” Johnson said.

When Barry buys a DVD of a movie at Best Buy, he still thinks of the Skylark and all the great non-mainstream movies he was able to see on the big screen when he was a teen. These days, when he goes to the movies, it’s usually with his wife, and they go to the giant Cineplex theaters.

And on the way there, she stays in the passenger seat.

Source: “Flashback to drive-in’s heyday” by Vikki Ortiz -The Chicago Tribune.,0,1554735.column.

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Outdoor Movies Rise in Popularity With Modern Drive-In Movie Theaters

Outdoor Movies with MobMovOutdoor movies and drive-ins, both traditional and guerrilla, are on the rise. The first drive-in movie theater was opened on June 6, 1933, by salesman Richard M. Hollingshead in Camden, N.J. On the bill was a twilight showing of the British comedy Wife Beware. Hollingshead had worked out the technology with a 1928 Kodak projector that he mounted on the hood of his car and aimed at a sheet. The film was a little-known second-run feature, and the neighbors complained about the noise.

From those decidedly humble beginnings, a U.S. institution was born, one that exploded in the post–World War II automobile culture. The drive-in era peaked in 1958, with nearly 5,000 theaters across the U.S. But in 1966, daylight saving time led to summer showings at 9 p.m., making the
screenings less appealing to families. Air-conditioned theaters trumped steamy summer nights, and by the 1980s, the VCR and cable TV dealt another blow to the ailing industry. By 1995, fewer than 500 drive-ins were left.

But just when it seemed as if the iconic U.S. entertainment form was headed for extinction, a mini-revival began. Fueled by a blast of nostalgia as well as families tired of spending upwards of $50 to take the kids to the multiplex, new drive-ins have opened in Texas, Montana, Alabama,
Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York, while all over the country, vintage theaters have been renovated. Websites like and keep aficionados updated about openings and showtimes.

A new generation of movie fans is taking its cue from Hollingshead, fusing modern technology with his old-school concept of a drive-in, creating do-it-yourself outdoor movie experiences. DVD players, digital projectors and iPods have put the technology of drive-in movies into the hands of anyone with a technological bent. In California, the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In collective has combined a love of movies with a mission to reclaim public space by staging word-of-mouth screenings of films ranging from politically subversive shorts to Dirty Dancing, and it has inspired other guerrilla-flick efforts in Portland, Me., and West Chester, Pa. In Berkeley, Calif., Web developer Bryan Kennedy turned his car into a mobile movie unit, a sort of drive-in that actually drives in, with a DVD player, a projector and an FM transmitter that beams a movie’s soundtrack to other cars.
His technology has given rise to the MobMov movement, with chapters worldwide, creating free film venues in any open space. Kennedy offers
directions forgetting started at

Sometimes impromptu screenings become institutions themselves. In 1997, New York City filmmaker Mark Elijah Rosenberg set up a 16-mm projector and a white sheet on the roof of his East Village apartment building and began screening short films. A decade later, RoofTop Films has
evolved into a full-scale, summer-long festival, with submissions from around the world. This year the event will screen 48 independent films at various locations–all of them under the stars.

Source: “Movies That Star the Stars” By Lisa McLaughlin -Time Magazine, Monday, Aug. 07, 2006. Read full article at:,9171,1223368,00.html.

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Lancaster, Ohio: Transform Your Backyard Into A Drive-In Movie Theater

Backyard Outdoor Movies in Lancaster, OhioFun doesn’t have to be far from home this summer. Transforming your backyard to create a space for camping, star-gazing or “drive-in” outdoor movie nights is often easy and inexpensive -and it’s literally a few steps away.

Tom Hageman, manager at Dunham’s Sports at the River Valley Mall, has an extensive list of games and activities for families to do outside without spending a lot of money.

Everyone loves outdoor films, right? Turn the backyard into a drive-in movie theater, complete with popcorn, Milk Duds and family-friendly releases from the local movie rental facility. Kids and adults alike will love watching their favorite movies under the stars. The key to this one is having a projector to display the movie on a blank wall or onto a blank sheet on the wall. Some companies even rent projectors out for the weekend for recreational use. Get some neighbors together, invite the kids, and kick back with the perfect drive-in movie that took no driving at all.

Or for dads who need more toys, or families who want a fancier outdoor movie experience than just a sheet hanging from a tree, there are companies that will sell ready-to-use, high-tech outdoor cinema systems complete with inflatable screen, projector, speakers, the works.

Another idea is to turn the backyard into your family’s personal water park. Boch, president of Pleasantville Elementary parent teacher organization, said her children love playing in the hose when the weather heats up. Another pastime is slip-and-slide toys, typically sold at stores such as Wal-Mart and Meijer.

Add a sprinkler, some water balloons and squirt guns onto that and you’ve got a wet and wild party just outside the back door. Compare the price of items to what it would cost for a pool pass or tickets to the nearest water park to make sure you’re still getting a deal.

Here’s a two-pronged activity that involves the whole family -and then some. Try creating life-size board games or card games, suggested Kirsten Stratton, secretary at Hug-a-Bear Day Care in Lancaster.

“Instead of having the small ones you play at the table, they’re big ones, like poster-size cards,” Stratton said.

Families will not only have fun creating the giant cards, but playing with them in the yard will be a blast too, she said.

And what about camping? All it takes is a tent and some essential s’mores ingredients and you’re ready for a full night of ghost stories and star-gazing.

Backyard camping is a true bargain compared to leaving the county, Hageman said.

“Essentials you’re going to need in the backyard are so much fewer than if you go into the woods because you can always run back into the house,” he said.

Source: “Good times are as close as the backyard” by Morgan Day -The Eagle-Gazette. Read full article at:

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Montclair, California: Mission Tiki Drive-In Presents an Outdoor Cinema Screening of "Drag Me to Hell"

Outdoor Movies at the Mission Tiki Drive-InThe following is an excerpt from the “Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule” blog post regarding an outdoor movie screening of “Drag Me to Hell” at Mission Tiki Drive-In. Read the full post about the outdoor cinema event, as well as the author’s review on the film, here.

It is my happy duty to report that the first SLIFR Night at the Drive-in, which took place this past Saturday night at the Mission Tiki Drive-in, was, in my humble estimation, a rousing success. Much of that success had to do with the feature entertainment being as perfect for a gathering under the outdoor movie screen as was Grindhouse over two years ago—more about Drag Me to Hell in a moment. But I think it had a whole lot more to do with being part of a genial and enthusiastic crowd of people, some friends, some virtual friends and readers of this blog whom I had never occasion to meet before, and many folks who responded to the open invite just because an outdoor film sounded like fun. And because of each and every one that came out to celebrate the drive-in with us Saturday, that’s exactly what it was.

I arrived around 5:45, after discovering an annoying glitch in the directions I had provided to everyone that instructed drivers to turn down not the proper road to approach the theater from the back, but instead down a scary, dead-end alley from where there would seem to be, once you got down there, no safe or sure return. (Drag me to hell, indeed.) Fortunately, the folks who made the journey to Montclair that night were, to a driver, far smart enough to make the adjustment and figure out for themselves what I couldn’t manage to convey. By 6:00 I was setting up tables and chairs next to the evening’s very first arriving guest, the current president of the Phantom Coaches Hearse Club, Kerri and her husband (whose name I cannot recall, to my ultimate discredit), who parked next to my van and, as dusk approached, brought out their vintage Coleman oil-pump lantern (the kind that hisses as the fuel glides through its intricate machinery), which added immensely to the nighttime ambiance already brought to the darkening lot by their awesomely restored Caddy coffin wagon.

Mission Tiki Drive in Presents Outdoor Movies in Montclair, CaliforniaAs we all began to coalesce around the general area near the front of the lot, get our spots laid out, migrate back and forth from there to the snack bar and back, and settle in as dusk and the movie grew nearer, I really began to appreciate the fact that so many people—all in all, nearly 40—came together to share this outdoor cinema experience, and I was very honored that it happened under my watch. It was a real thrill to look around and see a real party atmosphere taking shape—it really did provide a great lead-in for the high spirited movie we were about to see. Just before show time, we all gathered around the general area where most everyone was parked, with just enough time for me to hold a drawing for some Drag Me to Hell-Sam Raimi-related prizes. Sammi’s husband David picked up a Three Stooges DVD set in a lunchbox container (the Stooges being an obvious influence on the style of slapstick that has been a linchpin of Raimi’s visual style since Evil Dead 2); there were a couple of other cool DVDs—quadruple features from Warner Bros. including a Hammer Dracula foursome that was highly coveted, and one of Raimi’s amusing western pastiche The Quick and the Dead; a couple of very nice Drag Me to Hell one-sheets; and several one-of-a-kind, get ‘em while they’re hot Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule T-shirts!

Mission Tiki Drive-In Presents Outdoor Movies in Montclair, CaliforniaOnce again, thanks so much to everybody who made going to Hell this past Saturday night such a blast. To those of you who wrote in wishing you could have been there, I hope this report brings a little of it home to you and will inspire you to somehow join us for the next one. (I’ve got a very good idea, but it all depends on whether or not there’s a drive-in screen nearby that will be showing Black Dynamite.) Most of all, it’s nice to know there are so many genuinely fine people who read this blog and would choose to share their Saturday evening with me for this event. I am honored and so glad that the memory of this fun night will thankfully last much longer than the actual event. (I even had a nightmare Saturday night after I got home, and it was almost as much fun as the movie!) Thanks for reading and coming out, everybody. In the immortal words of Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby, let’s do it again… real soon!

Official Blog: Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule


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MobMov Presents Outdoor Movies in Guerrilla Drive-In Movie Theaters Around the Country

Outdoor Movies in a Guerrilla Drive-In Movie TheaterThis is the modern drive-in: With hundreds of chapters across the globe, the Mobile Movie is bringing back the forgotten joy of the great American drive-in. Powered by cars and video projectors, “mobmovs” are easy and affordable to set up for outdoor movies almost anywhere. Abandoned warehouse walls spring to life with the sights and sounds of an open air cinema. has been in operation since 2005, and is the earliest “revival drivein” of it’s kind. In fact, the term “MobMov”, short for Mobile Movie, was originally coined by Bryan Kennedy, the founder of, to describe the unique “drive-in that drives-in” method he developed.

Today, is powered by do-it-yourself’ers like you across the globe, all joined together in the goal to bring outdoor cinema back, in a new, sustainable way. It’s free to join and lots of fun.

What is the Mobile Movie?
We are the global guerrilla drive-in movement bringing back the forgotten joy of the great American drive-in and outdoor films. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, what used to be a dark and decrepit warehouse wall springs to life with the sublime sights and sounds of a big-screen movie. Best of all, the MobMov is free.

Why should I join the MobMov?
Because you like watching and supporting great independant films. Because you want to meet others in your community interested in bringing back the drive-in. Because you’re tired of the long lines, long commercials, and high ticket prices at the local cineplex. Because outdoor cinema is fun!

How do I participate in a MobMov?
Simple. Sign up to our mailing list. Showings are held approximately every two weeks usually on the weekend. The day before the Mob, we’ll e-mail everyone with the location and the movie. If you want to join in, all you have to do is fill your car with your friends and find the spot.

What does a typical MobMov look like?
The exciting bit about the MobMov is that its almost never held in the same place twice. At the start of the show, you’ll tune your radios into the station specified at the beginning of the film, and then sit back and relax.

Is MobMov a “Guerilla Drive-in” or not?
Of course we are! But definitions are tricky. You may have heard of the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-in. Without attempting to belittle this great movement, it isn’t a Guerilla “Drive-in” but a Guerilla “Walk-in”. Santa Cruz literally created the GWI, but we’ve gone beyond that original concept and created a true drive-in experience. In a traditional format like Santa Cruz, a bunch of guys would haul out a projector, some marine batteries, a screen, and some speakers to a park. Everyone in the know would in turn bring blankets and sit down. This is a very cool thing to do, but it isn’t a “drive-in” in most senses of the term.

Our goal in creating the MobMov was to create a true “drive-in” experience by enclosing the projector and an FM transmitter inside a car. Participants drive in to a parking lot, tune their radios, and watch their favorite flick from the comfort of their car. As far as we know, we’re the first ones to attempt this on a public scale. We didn’t create the term “Guerilla Drive-in”, but we’re the first to use it correctly.

This new approach is better for a variety of reasons. Drive-ins were popular originally because it was like having your own private cineplex – if you wanted privacy, you’d just roll up your windows. If you wanted to be part of a community, you’d roll them down, open your doors, maybe even walk around. Secondly, while a traditional GDI only operates in the summer, you can stay in your car with the heater running while participating in a mobmov. That’s rain or shine folks and folketts.

How do I start my own MobMov?
Interest has been growing in the mobmov at a rapid pace. We’ve heard from people all over the world who want to see it brought to their shores and towns. Well, we say, the more the merrier! If you’re interested in starting your own mobmov, we’re happy to lend a hand in getting started. To that effect, we have video animations, equipment lists, and tutorials on how to set all of this up yourself. We’d love to list you as a “mobmov chapter” on this site, and host a mailing list for showings in your area. So click on the e-mail us link at right and we’ll get you going.

Why do you call it MobMov?
Our name contains far more significance than simply being short for “Mobile Movie”. Mob: much like Flashmob and similar movements, the MobMov is organized over the internet, appears for a short time in a random location, and disappears just as quickly as it came. Try that with your parents’ drive-in! Movment: we like to think of ourselves as movie mercenaries of sorts – we bring free outdoor movies to the community, providing a new, wholesome night-time use for the forgotten areas of town.

MobMov Official Website

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