Star-Vu Drive-In Opens May 18

posted by Jillann on May 4, 2007 at 4:40 am

COSTA MESA, CA — Star-Vu-Drive-In, the new drive-in movie theater debuting with an inflatable screen at the Orange County Fairgrounds, will open Friday, May 18 with two showings of SHREK 3, marking the first time in a decade a movie has been shown at an Orange County drive-in. Gates will open at 7 p.m. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

The Star-Vu Drive-In is the brainchild of four principals, three of them from Orange County: Fred Armendariz, Jeffrey Teller and Mary Jean Duran. The fourth is Bob Deutsch of Rockville, Maryland and owner of Outdoor Movies, the supplier of the screen and state-of-the-art projection system.

Along with the 65' x 33' inflatable screen, an airscreen Premiere, the drive-in will include food concessions in the Westside Grill, a facility also used during the weekend swapmeet at the fairgrounds, and an adjacent Star-Vu Snack Shack, a kids play area with inflatable attractions, permanent restrooms and accommodation for 300 cars.

Sound will be transmitted through each car via FM radio station.

Admission prices are $8.50 for ages 13 years and older and $5 for children five to 12 years and free for kids four and under.

Future show listings and information on upcoming advance ticket sales will be available soon at the Official Star-Vu Website. Additional information may be obtained by calling 949-296-7002 or via .

UPDATE 5/20: L.A. Times article about reopening.

Comments (19)

KenLayton on May 4, 2007 at 5:43 am

With an inflatable screen, how can you be assured that the screen will be in absolutely the same exact position? Must play havoc with cutting an aperture plate for the projector and keeping the picture focused & masked properly?

What happens when the winds kick up? Is the show shut down? If so, that wouldn’t happen with a real drive-in screen made of steel.

KenLayton on May 4, 2007 at 5:52 am

65 feet by 33 feet doesn’t sound right for 35mm film projection. Is that the size of the picture area or the entire structure?

For flat (1.85) aspect ratio the screen picture area should be 65 by 35½. For scope (2.35) aspect ratio the screen picture area should be 65 by 27½. This assumes the dimensions of the screen you mention. A screen with a 65 by 33 picture area would be the dreaded “2:1” ratio (something to be avoided at all costs!).

A 65 foot wide screen is kinda dinky for a drive-in. Most good drive-in screens are in the range of 40' high by 94' wide.

Jillann on May 4, 2007 at 6:00 am

The AIRSCREEN premiere we are using is highly wind resistant and durable. Withstands winds up to 24 mph, and in our area that is rare. It is also anchored by large cement blocks. You can find out more about these screens at The benefits of having the inflatable screen at this fairgrounds location are many including it will allow us to adapt to master plan changes, and rework configurations if space issues are involved.

KenLayton on May 4, 2007 at 6:30 am

Real drive-in screens (steel) are designed to withstand 150 mph winds since you never can tell about the weather.

What about the other issues I mentioned above?

Jillann on May 4, 2007 at 6:34 am

Best if you contact the tech person Bob Deutsch directly via the website listed above.

KenLayton on May 6, 2007 at 6:13 am

65 foot wide screen is way too small for 300 cars.

outdoormovies on May 6, 2007 at 7:37 am

Ken, the below answers your questions. Thanks for being interested in the project. Maybe you can make a trip down south to see us.

Q. How do we erect the screen in precise placement each time?
A. Screen placement is precise. AIRSCREEN is a substantial and stable architected/engineered structure. Ground markings, high pressure frame, steel rope (which do not move or stretch), offer a high quality structure. Aperture plates are cut, a new Strong projector is installed and tested… Ken I have t tell you – the picture looks GREAT. AIRSCREEN has been used for: multiple studio engagements, AFI Fest & AFI SilverDocs, Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Traverse City Film Festival… and on and on.. It is a very substantial product.

Q. What drive-in screen fits both scope and flat formats perfectly?
A. None. No image is lost from either format in our screenings. And not technical sacrifice has been made. We have a further advantage – our screen is a theatrical screen surface, something a traditional tower cannot offer. The scope picture starts four feet higher than flat and goes edge to edge. Flat leaves a few feet unfilled at each side.

Q. What is a most common size drive-in screen for 300 cars?
A. 65’… the reason is simple. Under most building codes, traditional drive-in towers exceeding 65-70’ require three truss towers instead of two increasing their cost significantly. As a result, 65’ is a very common size.

Q. Does the Star-Vu need a screen engineered for 150mph winds?
A. No. We will not operate in hurricane conditions.

Regards, to all drive-in lovers! We have invested our time, money and heart into this project over the past two and half years. We appreciate all of the telephone calls, comments and encouragement that we have received from so many people.

All the best,

Bob Deutsch

KenLayton on May 6, 2007 at 8:05 am

How about pictures of the projection equipment? Projector make and model? Soundhead make and model? Lamphouse make, model & wattage? I assume you’re using a platter? Is this a 7 day a week operation or just Fri-Sat-Sun?

Your theater website doesn’t really give much information on it and a suggestion would be to include the following:
street address
phone number
what movies are showing now or comming soon
theater pictures/history
food menu

outdoormovies on May 6, 2007 at 8:55 am

All coming… on the site… great suggestions…

Projector is a new Century MSC, console is a Strong HL2A (up to 7k), 5k in it now, analog LED head, Smart DI processor…and no platter, it is tight space… an Eprad double MUT instead…. it is a sweet rig…. and yes open 7 days.

Glad you’re curious…we’ll post booth photos soon!


KenLayton on May 6, 2007 at 2:13 pm

Wow! That certainly is great equipment. That Strong Highlight 2A console should give you plenty of light and that Smart DI processor is a wise choice to feed your transmitter.

RayKaufman on May 6, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Congratulations Bob, You’ve been working on this for quite some time. Everyone should know, Bob is a stickler and when it comes to detail, he invented it. I’m sure he’ll wow ‘em. Nice to see your working with the original team.


JakeM on May 7, 2007 at 9:37 am

Hey! I’m moving into an apartment right down the street from the Farigrounds and I for one am very exited about this drive in. The last time I saw a drive-in movie was 1994, Lion King at Highway 39 Drive In in Westminster, CA. It’s now a Wal-Mart…..blech…

Anyway, I will try to make it to the first show, should be fun. Good luck to you!

outdoormovies on May 7, 2007 at 9:40 am

Thanks for your note and thoghts, Ray! Nice to hear from you. Let’s catch up soon.


Chris Utley
Chris Utley on May 8, 2007 at 7:13 pm

150 MPH winds in Southern California??? Highly unlikely.
Planning to be there on opening night with my Orange County based movie club. We can’t wait!

myimesgen on May 11, 2007 at 6:30 am

Sorry if this is an aside. What is the smallest recommended screen for a multi-screen drive-in (using digital technology) where each drive-in can host approximately 150 to 200 vehicles.

sailmakai on May 15, 2007 at 12:38 pm

Yippee, we love the Drive-in. We go to one an hour away from the family cabin in SW Colorado in July. It’s going to be great having one here in Orange County.


PS keep the ticket prices low, so I can afford to take the kids often.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on May 17, 2007 at 7:38 pm

I attended the Star-Vu’s Sneak Preview Night on Thursday May 17th. They showed “Shrek 2” (they weren’t allowed to show “Shrek The Third” due to contractual obligations). I must tell you guys, the management has themselves a winner here in SoCal!

First thing’s first: the much ballyhooed inflatable screen was HUGE. It looked sorta tiny when driving past it a few days ago but, once you’re inside the lot, it’s a pretty large screen. There was no distortion and it held up strongly on a slightly windy night. The management has announced that they will not be running the drive-in on rainy and extremely windy nights. FM radio sound was clear and booming. The speakers in my Altima got an unexpected workout!

Projection was ok. Brights were very bright but dark scenes were of the traditional, old school drive-in/pre-Technalight variety. I got a tour of the booth where the technical director spoke about the fancy lamphouses, bulbs and such that he has in his arsenal. I did place the good word about Technalight to them. Hopefully they’ll consider it.

To everyone’s benefit, the Star-Vu will be placing normal passenger cars in front and SUV’s/trucks in the rear. The screen is placed so high that everyone gets a clear view of the screen. No craning and sore necks and no other cars blocking your view. The one drawback is that even though the lot we were in is a pretty big lot, it’s gonna be really easy to fill it up. I suspect they’ll turn away their fair share of cars over the summer months.

Since this D/I is on the lot of the Orange County Fairgrounds, concessions and restrooms are already built in. Food was good (they dished out free burgers, dogs, fries, drinks & popcorn). Restrooms were clean and sanitary.

I got a chance to speak with several of the key people behind this new drive-in. They revealed that, in order to insure that they make a profit, they’ll be running single features only. Now I know that the purists among us will cry SACRELIGE for such a decision, but I think it’s the best thing for this new venture. More showtimes equals more $$$ for them – which is the name of the game, of course, when you’re launching a new business.

The verdict: This place is going to be a huge success. I suspect they’ll discover in a very short time that they’re truly gonna need a bigger boat after all the cars they’re destined to turn away. I sent the management team an email with my fullest and heartiest congratulations. They truly pulled it off – inflatable screen, no ramps and whatnot – they did it!

mrsalgomez on May 18, 2007 at 1:37 am

I also attended the preview night in celebration of the new Star Vu Drive-in located in the parking lot of the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa California. I’ll have my comments along with photos and a tiny, tiny video posted on our website later today,

nebali on May 25, 2009 at 8:19 pm


I couldn’t find your write-up on the opening of Star-Vu. Do you have a link? I did however find a listing of other outdoor movies at

Looks like these inflatable movie screens are spreading.

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