Hendersonville Outdoor Cinema
1419 Asheville Highway,
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The Hendersonville Drive-In opened in 1955. In the business the projectionist will know flat from ‘scope. Eventually a theatre manager will know the talk. My first education in a flat print was my visit to the Hendersonville Outdoor Cinema.
Way before I worked in a theatre I was told the screen at the Hendersonville Outdoor Cinema was best suited for a flat print. I can’t remember ever seeing such a boxed screen! If they showed a ‘scope print it must have hit the pines on each side!
It was owned in the late-1950’s by Ben R. Pless, and was located on Asheville Highway. It parked 364 cars, more than its sister the Joy Drive-In on the other side of town. It was run by Jim Northington who also ran the Carolina Theatre which was later to be twinned into Carolina 1 and 2.
I remember going to that drive-in a few times. It certainly was not as nice as the Joy Drive-In. The concession and booth were one level but the Hendersonville Outdoor Cinema had a screening room off to the right of the concessions with theatre chairs for 20 or 30 moviegoers. It was really the only decent thing about this drive-in.
Back in the 1950’s and up until the late-1960’s or early-1970’s it was known as Hendersonville Drive-In. Not much of a name but that was it. On April 7, 1955 the drive-in was playing "Overland Pacific" and the second hit "Paris Playboys." They also had color cartoons, short subjects, and news.
However, by the late-1970’s they had "The Preacherman" and "Hot Summer in Barefoot County" both of these were rated R. As Ray Hutto told me, they also went for the adult crowd and ran hardcore X on Friday and Saturday nights.
As Ray said, "it was strictly for the money." He said the policy was to clear the lot of any children and then start the X-rated feature. I often wondered how many kids fell asleep in their cars while mom and dad stayed and watched the "hot" feature.
Sadly by October 22, 1977 like so many drive-ins, the Hendersonville Outdoor Cinema would run adult shows during the week. The one night I went there "The Getaway" was the second feature and it was ending. It wasn’t long before the X-rated late show was on that screen. Hardly enough time for families to leave.
I often wondered if they picked up prints from the X-rated Fine Arts Theatre in Asheville. Ray said "no" but he was mainly at the Joy Drive-In and Carolina 1 and 2. By 1979 The Joy Drive-In was long gone. The Joy Drive-In was mostly a family drive-in.
Ray said the pictures at the Hendersonville got so hardcore that lights had to be put up in the back lot to blank out the screen even though there was no major road that could have seen the screen!
On February 28, 1978 the Hendersonville is playing "Return to Macon County" rated PG and "Monte Walsh." Hendersonville Outdoor Cinema showed all adult films until March 15, 1977. It closed to little or no fanfare in the local press.
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