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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.
I saw ‘The Love Letter’ at this theatre in the summer of ‘99. If I remember correctly, admission was $3.50 and a reg. size popcorn was free during all matinee shows.
Saw ‘Wild Wild West’ here back in the summer of ‘99
Will be making a trip out this summer.. can’t wait!!
Recently visited Myrtle Beach. The theatre is still standing. The doors are baracaded and the parking lot is a mess. A large ‘For Lease’ sign graces the entrance to the theatre. I walked around the building to see if I could find some old movie stubs, and instead noticed that a staircase led to a 2nd-level entrance that was propped open with a broom! I took a flashlight and walked around the theatre (illegally, sorry). All of the seats had been taken out of the auditoriums and placed in the lobby. The screens were still up, and the theatre is in great disrepair, but hopefully someone will buy it and open it back up as a discount theatre!
Had a lot of great memories at this drive-in, it will definately be missed..
Used to attend this theatre in the early 90’s when I went to visit my grandmother in Myrtle Beach. Very cool, unique design. You walk in on the right side and there is a ticket window leading to 7 screens and a concession stand. You walk in on the left side and there was a ticket window with another concession stand and 3 more screens. Some of the films seen here included ‘Father of the Bride’ ‘Dick Tracy’ ‘Home Alone 2’ ‘Career Opportunities’ ‘Scream’ ‘Sphere’ and ‘Eraser’.. among many others.. wish they would’ve kept this one going, Myrtle Beach no longer has a discount movie theatre. During the summer months, this theatre was always slammed.
I enjoyed this theatre and saw many films here during my visits to Myrtle Beach. When the Waccamaw Pottery stores went under and stopped doing well (mainly due to Broadway at the Beach) the theatre’s business dwindled as well. I remember July 4th weekend, 1996. The movie ‘Independence Day’ had just opened and the parking lot was overflowing into the streets. Fun times. Now that Hard Rock Park has gone under on the same property, great memories of Myrtle Beach past are all to be have the area. Other films I saw here were ‘The Santa Claus’ ‘Jawbreaker’ ‘Scream 2’ and ‘Gossip’
I used to love going to this theatre when visiting Myrtle Beach. If a movie didn’t do well at the first run theatre, it was usually here within a week or two for only a couple of bucks! Very rarely was the theatre ever busy, very easy to ‘moviehop’ and check out 2 or 3 movies a day :–)
The Stevens Center hosted a series called ‘Films on Fourth’ for a few years, very recently if I recall. They stopped this in 2006. Mostly arthouse and independent films that were only playing in NY and LA, the shows were often soldout and filled to capacity. I saw ‘Lost in Translation’ here and the entire audience applauded when the film was over. Not sure why they stopped this series, it appeared quite successful.
I research old movie listings in the Winston-Salem Journal. Wish I could’ve attended this theatre. It is currently a ghetto food market.