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6 screens were converted to stadium seating in 1998. The other 6 were completed in spring of ‘99. I enjoyed the seating before the change. Each screen had a set of 'couches’ that were probably supposed to be used for handicapped or overweight patrons, but were usually occupied by young couples. Those seats were so plush and comfortable. When I saw ‘The Rage: Carrie 2’ here in March of ‘99, only 6 screens were open while they finished the last of the stadium seating conversions.
I remember frequenting this theater in the mid-90’s. There was a huge music store called Peaches on the hill beside of it, and an ice cream shop/burger joint called Char’s. A near riot broke out on opening weekend of the racially driven ‘Higher Learning’. By the late 90’s, poor management had run this theater into the ground.
Since being taken over by an independent owner in the early 00’s, the theater has flourished. Very clean, Great popcorn, friendly staff, and the cheapest price in town ($3). If a movie bombs at the first run theatre, it’s usually here within 2 weeks.
The big 12 screen megaplex down the street, actually opened it’s doors in 1997 I believe. This theater lasted for a few years after.
You are right, Mmandarano. The theater was where the pawn shop is now. The last movie that I saw there was the 2nd run showing of ‘Scream 3’ in the spring of 2000. There was a surprising number of low class families with their young children there, and they thought the death scenes were hilarious. One of the last movies to show here was the Mel Gibson starrer ‘The Patriot’.
Litchfield operated this theater until 1994. Regal took over and operated until it’s closing in 2005.
In the mid-80’s, the single screen Mayberry Cinema (located on HWY 52 bypass) built a 3 screen cinema at the Fowler Road property. In newspaper listings, it was listed as Mayberry Cinema IV (since the original single screen was also still in operation for a brief time after opening the 3 screen building). Stuart and Everett owned at that time. In 1988, 2 additional screens were added to the Fowler Road location (the single screen across the street had been closed for about a year). Once the new Creekside Cinema 10 opened in Mount Airy in ‘03 or '04, the Mayberry Cinema 5 lasted barely a year. By this time, the sound and screen were blurry and muffled in several auditoriums and were never repaired. The church that resides in the building now is for sale; most auditoriums/screens are still in tact. Would be great if someone would buy it and reopen as a 2nd run theater. After almost 15 years, the Frank owned Creekside is now in need of a facelift.
I enjoy this theater. Affordable with a nice layout. Some of the screens are small, with only 6 or 7 rows of seats. Some of the movies I’ve seen here are Joy Ride, Scary Movie 2 and The Heartbreak Kid.
The news article from ‘Myrtle Beach Online’ questions why the sign on the door read, “Closed. Please visit us at AMC Broadway 16” when the theater is listed as the AMC Broadway 17. Before AMC took over last year, the Carmike Broadway 16 and IMAX theater (that previously occupied the BigD location) were not in business together. When AMC bought out Carmike, they also purchased the IMAX location (that I believe had already closed down briefly) and started calling itself ‘AMC Broadway 17’, including the BigD screen that is located a couple of businesses down. I watched Avatar here when the location was still IMAX. This location didn’t have the dome screen, the screen lighting was poor and the viewing area was restricted and awkward, with such a large screen and odd seating.
The Deerfield 3 was still in operation into the late 90’s as a discount 99 cent cinema. I remember seeing Sunset Park and the first Austin Powers movie here. Loved the layout, older but clean cinema. It’s been demolished and an empty spot of land sits awkwardly in the middle of the strip mall where it was once housed.
This drive in was used in the movie Jawbreaker, which was released in February of 99. Apparently, the scenes were shot shortly before it’s demolition.
Saw Showgirls here with college friends that went to UNCW, back in the fall of 1995. We had a ball, everyone in the theater had fun hooping and hollering and shouting comments at the screen. Never would I have imagined that flck would be a cult classic now, I was seriously bothered by that rape scene. Hate to see they demolished this old movie house, haven’t been in that area in awhile.
This theatre is now a church. The original layout is still intact, including most of the screens. The middle screen (the largest in the complex) is used as the main seating area, with additional screens used for overflow. The poster display cases are still on the outside of the theater, as well as a ‘Coming Soon’ marquee. I have many great memories of this cinema. I remember sitting in a sold out showing of Jurassic Park with my grandmother (who slept through the movie!) And on opening night of The Fast and the Furious, everyone squealed tires out of the parking lot.
The theatre now shows DVD’s on screen. I thought that this was illegal, but apparently not. Most theatres have converted to digital, and I guess Earle Theatre couldn’t afford to make the transition. They still charge $5.00 (even though the movies playing have been out on DVD for a couple of months).
The screen is still standing, but the concession stand/projection booth has been torn down. A man who owns ‘Carolina Carports’ purchased the land and has also had the trees cut down that guarded the screen from people who might be trying to peek while driving down 52 North. A rumor has been circulating that he plans to completely remodel the drive-in and reopen it. Hope this rumor is true :–) So many great summer memories from this place. The best one I have is the summer of ‘92, seeing 'A League of their Own’ here with my grandparents. They fell in love with the movie and we watched it at least a couple of times a year until they passed. Surprisingly, the record-breaking movie to play at this drive-in was ‘Porky’s 2: The Next Day’… Owner Don Davis said that it’s opening weekend there was busier than the original Star Wars!
Went to see the box office dud ‘Cloud Atlas’ here a couple of weekends ago. Missed it first run, this was the only theater playing it in the area. The service was great, but $5.00 is too much to pay for a second run movie, especially when the theater is in dire need of repair. The theater has been transformed into a bluegrass music museum during the day. The seats are uncomfortable (unbearable almost for the three hour movie I watched). The sound was barely audible. The movie itself was grainy and scratchy. At the two hour mark, the movie cut off and the screen went dark. I soon realized that the 2nd reel had to be put on and the movie came back on about 20 seconds later. I love supporting the old theaters, but am quite disappointed in this one and won’t be returning unless something I desperately want to see comes around.
This is one of the last remaining operating drive-in theatres in North Carolina. Last weekend, the season opened with ‘Fast Five’ and ‘Your Highness’.. this drive-in still does good business after all these years.
In September of ‘84, the Drive-In recieved national attention and mention in several leading newspapers across the country. An all-night movie marathon ended in destruction when a large group of around a hundred teens began to riot. Some of the movies being shown that night were 'Rocky III’ ‘The Waitresses’ and ‘Reckless.’
The drive-in theatre was at near capacity that night, with nearly 2,000 people in attendance. The unruly group began to light bonfires and throw bottles at patrons. Police and firefighters were called in, several law enforcement officers were hurt during the incident and the fence bordering the drive-in was knocked down when a teen made an unsuccessful attempt to elude officers.
Sorry to continue on with my obsession with this particular Drive-In, but I’m finding some really interesting information in my research. In the June 18, 1990 issue of ‘The Mount Airy News’ there is a great interview with owner Don Davis and long-time employee Clyde Raines. Don says that one of his favorite aspects of the drive-in experience was the contests he held over the years. One year,on the Fourth of July, Clyde was holding a drawing for a pony. The man who won came to the ticket box to claim his prize, and Don informed him that the pony was tied to a fence post by the entrance. The man came back and said their was no pony out there. The pony was never found! Also, the Bright Leaf was actually built and had it’s first day of operation on August 11, 1950. The drive-in was named by Mrs. Ruth Park of Route 4, Mount Airy. She won a $10 prize and a month’s attendance for coming up with the name. The new highway 52 was being built through the land where the drive-in sat, so it was torn down a mere three years after being opened. Plans to rebuild the Bright Leaf were announced in the Mount Airy News on September 3, 1954 and the drive-in was opened in 1955 at it’s new location, where it sat until it closed in 2010.
Thanks Chuck.. You’re correct, the theatre is still listed and is still operating. The number you are referring to in the header, however, is for the administration/office of this particular theatre. The number that they advertise to call for showtimes… 1-888-94-FILM… no longer lists showtimes for this particular theatre. If you type in the Winston-Salem zipcode, it automatically says that the closest AmStar Cinema is the ‘Four Seasons Grand 18’ in Greensboro, NC (a neighboring city).
I just saw the Reese Witherspoon-Owen Wilson comedy ‘How Do You Know’ here a couple of weeks ago. The staff actually recognized me and asked how I’d been doing. Haven’t been here in probably two years :–) Always a nice trip back to yester year with this quaint little cinema.
I’ve been researching some old newspaper listings from Mount Airy. This drive-in has a lot of history, shame it had to close. In the early 70’s, you could arrive at dusk and watch a total of five movies running late into the wee morning hours. Usually a couple of family films to start things off, then more soft core adult fare like ‘The Van’ or ‘Cheerleaders’… To close the evening on a classy note, the drive-in would conclude with popular hardcore titles such as ‘Johnny Wadd’ or ‘Deep Throat.’ In the 80’s, the drive-in had a popular $20 drawing on Saturday nights, free entry. Often in the spring, they would announce ‘The first 20 cars get a FREE WATERMELON!’ Star Wars was a huge deal at this drive-in when it arrived first run (as with every other theatre/drive-in in the country that carried the film upon it’s release ;–) Managers reported that cars were lined up and down Highway 52 just praying for entrance to see the blockbuster on the drive-in screen.
I would like to update my last comment. Apparently due to tough times, ushers now ‘check in’ to each movie every 45 minutes or so. Very annoying! They walk in with a clipboard, do a headcount, walk around the cinema, check the exits, sometimes stay to watch part of the movie, then walk out. They do this several times during the film. VERY distracting! Not sure if new management has taken over or what, but the AmStar Cinema toll free movie recording line no longer lists this theatre, and doesn’t offer showtimes either. There is a total of 4 concession stands at this cinema. One on each side of the multiplex, a large one at the entrance, and a small ‘bistro/cafe’ style concession stand to the side of the entrance. During the week, the ‘cafe/bistro’ style concession stand is the only one open! Maybe they should lower ticket prices.
Thanks for clarifying, Paco! I’ve been informed by a family member that back in the 70’s, when a lot of families in the area were going through tough economic times, this theatre hosted a day each week where you could bring in a merita bread wrapper and get into the movie for free!
This is by far the most popular theatre in Winston-Salem, the parking lot is overflowing on weekend nights. Prices are outrageous, screens are not digital. Theatre is clean and beautiful though, concession stand serves pizza and some other specialty foods, 9 screens on each side of the complex.. very easy to ‘movie hop’ ;–)
The theatre is alive and kicking.. A lot of great arthouse films that the city of WS would NEVER get to see on the big screen are now available to us, the theatre appears to be a success so far!
On the local news a few weeks ago, a brief story was featured about a group who was trying to raise money to reopen the Drive-In, that a financer from out of state was interested in going in with them to bring the property back to life. I hope this comes to be, the city of Mount Airy and surrounding communities really miss this Drive-In.