56 Auto Drive-In

9783 State Highway 56,
Massena, NY 13662

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56 Auto Drive-In

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The 56 Auto Drive-In opened on July 22, 1955 with Kirk Douglas in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. Most importantly is is still open and shows first run movies seven nights a week.

From the look of the marquee, this is vintage 1950’s/1960’s.

Contributed by tc

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

NYozoner
NYozoner on January 4, 2008 at 4:24 pm

This was called the “56 Auto Theatre” when it first opened on July 22, 1955. The drive-in is located on Route 56, south of Massena, which is in the Thousand Island region of New York State. The movie shown on opening night was Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.”

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I have it owned in 1956 by Donald Gilson.

Tinker3cat
Tinker3cat on April 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm

This is Massena’s newest Drive-In. How about the Sunset Drive In? It was near Massena Center off the road that later lead to Eisenhower Lock area. My parents and I went to see a movie there in the early 1950’s and to our dismay, the screen had blown down the night before. I wanted to just cry. So I did. (just kidding about the crying part) Ray , formerly of Winthrop NY

NeonMichael
NeonMichael on October 12, 2017 at 1:41 pm

I wish I knew Mike’s source, because I couldn’t find much useful info about the 56 in my reference books.

Its first appearance in the Motion Picture Almanacs was the 1957 edition. Most of its listings didn’t include a capacity; only in 1961-63 was it mentioned as 400 cars. The 56 dropped out of the MPAs from at least 1966-76.

56 Auto Theater owners, by MPA edition:
1957-59: Upstate Theatre Inc.
1961-63: North D-I. Theas. Corp.
1966-76: not listed
1980-88: W. Leger.

NeonMichael
NeonMichael on October 12, 2017 at 1:58 pm

The 56 was built by Peter Papyanakas and opened in 1955.

In April 1968, The Massena Observer (pdf) wrote “Deb Theatre Corp., a division of Panther Theatre Corp., … has leased the Sunset Drive-In Theatre and the 56-Auto Thearte(sic) from the North Drive-In Theatre Corp., Peter C. Papayanakos, Potsdam, owner announced. Joseph A. Zalocha, native of Utica, was named manager”

Jeff Szot of JS Cinemas owns the 56 now. When did he buy it? According to North County Now, “Szot said he bought the drive-in sometime in the early or mid-1980s.” I’ll bet it was from some guy named Leger.

The 56 switched to radio sound “the early or mid-1990s” and to digital projection in 2014.

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