20th Century Drive-In

2900 N. Dale Mabry Highway,
Tampa, FL 33607

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20th Century Drive-In

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The 20th Century Drive-In was opened by 1955. It had a capacity for 500 cars, and 300 seating positions. Closed in 1979, it was replaced by an apartment building.

Contributed by Andy

Recent comments (view all 89 comments)

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on October 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm

According to an ad in Box-Office magazine from 1964, the screen at the 20th Century Drive-In was in excess of 110 feet wide. Certainly one of the largest at the time until the Mustang D/I opened in St. Petersburg with its 120-foot wide steel screen that they proudly advertised.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on October 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Do you know if the Mustang was capable of showing films in true scope?

NYozoner
NYozoner on October 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Any outdoor screen over 100 feet wide would almost have to be scope.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on October 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I would say very close to scope although not true CinemaScope. As I understand it original CinemaScope had a ratio of 2 to 1 but the process was later refined to a less wider image, and Panavision eventually replaced CinemaScope. Although the Mustang’s screen was larger it still doesn’t look quite as wide as the 20th Century’s. So I’d say the 20th Century had true scope capability with the Mustang coming close.

Check out the Mustang page on CT under Pinellas Park. Just yesterday someone posted a short YouTube video showing the lot when it was a flea market. The 120-foot wide screen is still standing. It looks massive but not quite as wide as the 20th Century’s screen.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on October 28, 2011 at 8:28 pm

The screen at the Mustang had a curve to it. I lived in Tampa when it was open and than when it was a flea market. The 20th Century had a true wide scope screen even though when I first went to Tampa in 77 it was panavision projection.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on October 28, 2011 at 9:54 pm

I forgot about the curve but you’re right. The Mustang did have a curved screen. I think if you were to cut about a 4th off the top of the Mustang’s screen it would then be true scope projection.

These drive-ins in Tampa also had a curved steel screen installed that replaced their original screens: Dale Mabry, Skyway, and Hillsboro. The Dale Mabry and Hillsboro were 100-foot wide and the Skyway was 60-foot wide. These screens were also tilted slightly downward at an angle aimed towards the booth for a more direct projection throw and better viewing from ground level.

tampapix
tampapix on November 4, 2011 at 11:35 pm

If you zoom in on the 1969 historic aerial at the link the NYozoner posted, you can see just below and right of the Dale Mabry entrance marqee, the Biff Burger restaurant so popular with the drive-in patrons. You can even see the striped rooftop. Immediately behind it (to the right), is the triangular shaped playground.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on November 5, 2011 at 5:43 am

I hadn’t noticed it in the aerial before but you’re right. I see the Biff Burger and the playground behind it. On several occasions when I couldn’t convince my parents to go to the drive-in, I had my father drop me off at Biff Burger. From the playground you had a nice view of the screen. Sitting on the swings I watched as the cars lined up at the box-office wishing I was in one of them as they entered the theatre. Although you could barely hear the movie from the playground it was the next best thing to actually being inside the drive-in!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm

neat story, I stood outside in the parking lot and watched movies while my mom shopped at Forest Hills Drive-in, guess a bunch of kids did this.

Rebelgator
Rebelgator on February 20, 2013 at 5:41 pm

It was not replaced by Kmart it was replaced by Apartment complex which is next to Kmart. back of drive In was on Himes. It was a wild time When Cheech n Chongs up in Smoke premiered there. Most people and Smoke I have ever seen in a Drive In….LOL

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