El Monte Drive-In

9700 Lower Azusa Road,
El Monte, CA 91731

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El Monte Drive-In exterior

Once located at the corner of Ellis Lane and Lower Azusa Road in the city of El Monte, California, U.S.A. The El Monte Drive-In opened on July 2, 1948 and was operated by Cal-Pac Drive-In Theatres (Pacific Theatres).

Sometime in the 1970’s it changed to a Spanish language movie house. Then, in very late-1999 or early-2000, it was leveled and taken away to make room for a Home Depot store.

Contributed by JustOlBob

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

bahooka on June 2, 2006 at 5:19 am

Nice pics, ChrisB.

Here is a link to an animated short film which features the El Monte Drive-In:

ElMonteDriveIn on March 25, 2007 at 3:49 am

I remember spending the night with my buddy when Star Wars was playing at the El Monte drive-in. His mom took us in her old Pinto, and she sat in the back seat reading a book by flashlight, while we sat in the front watching the movie, and pigging out on snacks.

I miss the old drive-in days.

boywithadream on April 16, 2007 at 5:50 pm

I lived across the street on Willmonte Ave. and remember passing the El Monte every day when I was a kid. In its later years it was only open during the summers and I remember getting in my family’s VW Vanogen and watching the double features. I am in college now and the nostalgia of that place is starting to hit me now. I was only 10 when they knocked it down and I didn’t really appreciate the magic of the drive-in. What I wouldn’t give for another hot summer night double feature down the street at the El Monte.

dblack1054 on July 21, 2007 at 5:38 am

I grew up in El Monte. I remember watching John Wayne westerns at the drive in. My sister and I got to play in the playground at the base of the screen, then run back to the car when the lights flashed! That was exciting and fun! Then we’d fall asleep in the back seat before the movie ended.

belteshazar on January 19, 2008 at 1:31 pm

I grew up on Willmonte Av. in Temple City, just a few blocks from the theater. I think I probably saw my first movie there s a child in the mid 1970’s. I distinctly remember playing on the swing sets under the screen, and seeing Blazing Saddles, Moonraker and The Pink Panther there. I lived for the animations at the beginning of the Pink Panther movies. We used to pile into my mom’s yellow VW bug and I would be stowed away in the compartment behind the back seat, covered by a blanket, so they didn’t have to buy me a ticket. One time they had toyed with the idea of putting me in the trunk at the front of the car, I’m not sure if this was serious, but I wouldn’t do it. I associate the El Monte Drive In with summertime memories of tastee-freeze ice cream and In-n-Out Burgers. That huge mural of the Mexican dancer is permanently tattooed to my imagination.

DavidZornig on September 12, 2008 at 10:41 pm

For anyone who is interested, there is a color picture of the El Monte Drive In Theatre behind an early `50’s Chevy, in the current Hagerty’s magazine. A in-house publication sent to those who insure classic cars through Hagerty Insurance.

The photo accompanies a nice 3 page article titled “Movies Under the Stars”. It indicates the El Monte was demolished in 1999. There is also mention of many other drive-ins by name, though with limited pictures.

Hagerty has a website, but I couldn’t find a link to the current article.
Maybe others will have more luck. It is published out of Warren Michigan.

Joe Pinney
Joe Pinney on February 13, 2014 at 6:57 pm

A PDF version of the Fall 2008 issue of Hagerty magazine that DavidZornig mentioned is available in full color here online:


DavidZornig on April 18, 2015 at 5:02 am

1948 image added courtesy of John J. Wilson.
Mary Brian’s last film “Dragnet”.
Don’t know why the marquee read “The Dragnet”.

vette792 on June 13, 2015 at 1:05 am

I lived a short way down lower Azusa from the drive in. me and my buds in 6th grade would go in the exit on our bikes every week and watch the movie in front by the play ground there were always spaces and speakers available we even took some girls one time (all clean fun)The guys that worked there knew we didn’t cause any trouble and let us do it every week. We even cleaned up after ourselves One movie I remember seeing is Godzilla. What a great memory they didn’t make us pay one time. Such a thing would never happen today. They would call the police today (SAD)

rivest266 on October 6, 2019 at 10:51 pm

The Pacific El Monte Drive-In opened on July 2nd, 1948. Grand opening ad posted.

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