Auto Drive-In

3109 Highway 25 South,
Greenwood, SC 29646

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Auto Drive-In

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The first drive-in to open in Greenwood, SC was the Auto Theatre. The drive-in was listed as open on April 21, 1946, but no movies were listed along with no opening date. I believe it opened April 23, 1948 featuring the 1948 adventure “Tarzan and the Leopard Women” with Johnny Weissmuller, Brenda Joyce and Johnny Sheffield. It was opened by A.T. Livingston and Olin Turner with a capacity for 250 cars. It also featured a playground for the children and bleachers for people who did not want to sit in their car. Pete Zouras leased the drive-in from the Turner family in 1954. Pete said “he wanted to expand his theatre horizons”. Pete bought the theatre equipment from Livingstone’s widow when here husband died a few years later. Pete made the comment in 1993 that “When I got into it in 1954, it was kind of slow going. It was kind of a struggle to build up business and took us three years to expand the business”. Pete said “really our best years were the 1960’s and 1970’s. Those were the best years we had” He also commented in 1993 the most successful movie by far was “Walking Tall” which would still be playing yet today if he hadn’t pulled it after five weeks".

In the late-1950’s and early-1960’s, Pete, along with Mario Ackerman, who was operating the Hi-Way 25 Drive-In at that time, were fighting to change the interpretation of the South Carolina blue laws about screening movies on a Sunday. During that time period a lot of drive-in operators and owners got arrested for screening movies on a Sunday. per the blue law. Their logic was that a law passed in 1712 does not apply to something that was not invented until the 20th century. So after operating the Auto Theatre for 32 years and since his lease on the drive-in was up in October 1986, Pete decided it was time for him to retire at the end of the drive-in season. He commented “I was it, janitor, owner, manager, you name it, and I did it all. I was ready to retire”. He sold the theatre equipment back to Virginia Turner. The Auto Theatre was reopened briefly on July 1, 1999 by Martin and Marsha Murray. Apparently they must have had problems with running it because it was only open for about five weeks and it was closed again.

The Auto Drive-In reopened on April 30, 2009 by new owners, Tommy and Carolyn McCutcheon who purchased the drive-in from the Turner family. It was reopened with many improvements which included increasing the car capacity to 500 cars and adding a second screen tower in 2011. The second screen tower was erected in time for the first screening of “Pirates of the Caribbean:On Stanger Tides”. Also there are plans for installing a third screen tower in the future. The drive-in boasts the largest screens on the east coast. Tommy and Carolyn McCutcheon have made the drive-in shine with all the accomplishments they have made. The drive-in has digital projection and sound, menus for early-birds, so you can have a dinner and a movie. They also show the latest attractions. The Auto Drive-In is open all year round.

Contributed by Randy Studer, Chuck, Mike Rogers

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on July 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

PLEASE CHANGE ADDRESS TO:

3109 U.S. 25

3109 Highway 25 South shows the entire southern United States and Central America on Google Maps.

AKA:

25 DRIVE-IN

1950 open?

1952 open?

I know it was open in 1967.

1975 closed?

1983 closed?

1999 open for 3 months?

By 2010 it had reopened.

Anyone have more info or photos?

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on July 11, 2010 at 11:11 am

From their own website:

The Mighty Auto Theatre is 90 feet wide and 40 feet tall. The Theatre will be celebrating its 60th birthday this year! Come and join us. If you wish to advertise with us in front of our elaborate playground, contact us.

The Screen was first lite up sometime in the 1930’s. It played until 1955 under the eyes of Olin Turner. Pete Zouras took over in ‘55. The summer that Walking Tall was a big hit, the screen tower was replaced. Pete stayed until the mid 1980’s.

Pete never played an “X” rated movie. The last picture he played was King Kong.

The screen was dark until the summer of 1999. It ran for 4 or 5 weeks. The Big Screen has been dark since.

Then came Tommy and Carolyn.

This is our second season at the Drive In. We made it through the cold months of winter. Yes, even when it was 14 degrees outside, we still had a nice turnout. We can put a picture on the screen through rain, sleet, and snow – as long as the flakes are not too big! We are currently working on a second screen. This will give you a bigger selection of movies when you come. You can always be assured that “the special movie” you want to see will be here. The parking ramps are already in place and the grass planted.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on July 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm

SiliconSam, thanks for adding that, I was going to add some of that, but remembered it just after I hit Submit!

I didn’t understand “celebrating its 60th birthday this year” that would be 1950 and “The Screen was first lite sometime in the 1930’s”?????? Course that’s from their website under Mighty Auto??????

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on July 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Maybe they are not counting the years they were closed? They also said they are in their 2nd season, which means they reopened in 2009, not 2010. It should, anyway.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I knew when i visited it while it was closed that the screen was new.I have pictures of it closed,but sadly,no way to get them on CT.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on February 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm

i have several pictures of the Auto drive-in.the screen was one the best I had ever seen.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 12, 2013 at 6:27 am

DId we ever find out about the second DRive -in a local there told me they had two Drive-ins.

Greenwood Brave
Greenwood Brave on January 6, 2014 at 12:10 am

Mike, according to a Facebook Greenwood group, there was another Drive In theater where KMart is now located.

I work at Greenwood Cinema 10, but want to see a drive in movie here one day. I have never seen one. I saw awhile back some college group from Augusta came to see a movie here .

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on January 6, 2014 at 8:52 am

This from a 1958 listing for Greenwood,SC

Auto Drive-Tn.
Hiway 25 Drive-In

Drew1959
Drew1959 on February 13, 2014 at 7:13 pm

I went to see House of Dark Shadows (1970) at the Drive In (Highway 25 Drive In) located where the Kmart Plaza is today. The entrance and main drive in sign was exactly where Ruby Tuesdays is today. They tore down the drive in and built Kmart in 1971. The first Mcdonalds opened up on the corner where Ruby Tuesdays is located and stayed there until the early 90s…sat empty for a little while..then was torn down and Ruby Tuesdays was built in its spot.

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