There was a day when movies were a tailgate party, families with children stuffed into the back of the station wagon parked next to a teen date or to a couple with steamed windows with no interest in the movie at all. There was a fee per person, which only inspired truck stuffing to save some coin. As we watch films on phones, there was something socially cool with the Drive-In era.
Concession promotions, cartoons, loud teenagers, it was full on Americana.
A terrible mono speaker hanging through the window upgraded to a AM or FM radio signal that could be picked up on the car radio.
The first drive-in theater opened in New Jersey in 1933. By 1958, there were over 4000 drive-ins were in operation in the US. Today, there are less than 400 open drive-in theaters in the US.
Why are they gone? The urban sprawl and the rise of land values, daylight savings, color tv and eventually cable tv and more. Many drive-in movie sites remain, repurposed as storage or flea markets.
Not hating on the comfy theaters with massive digital 3D screens, Dolby sound and the modern film experience, but how about a social encounter now and again. The bowling alley survives, so should the drive-in.