Sunset Drive-In

3060 N. Montana Avenue,
Helena, MT 59601

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Sunset Drive-In

The Sunset Drive-In opened July 12, 1949, featuring the 1947 travelogue documentary “Homestretch” with Cornel Wilde, Maureen O'Hara and Glenn Langan, with shorts and the latest news. E. R. ”Chub” Munger was the owner/operator of the new drive-in. The Sunset Drive-In was first drive-in theatre to open in Helena, with the Sky-Hi Drive-In opening on May 1, 1952. It had a parking ramp that held 500 cars with in-a-car speakers, and screening features on a 60 ft. x 60 ft. screen tower.

In 1952 the Sunset Drive-In installed ‘Moonlights or Moonbeams’ for the opening of the summer movie season. This lighting system consisted of red, amber, blue flood lights mounted on a tall pole. This provided illumination of the parking ramp during intermissions and at the end of the show for exiting the theatre. In 1955 a new CinemaScope screen was installed. One of the contest’s Chub Munger held, was a yearly drawing for a brand new Chevrolet. The Sunset Drive-In finally closed on September 5, 1982 with Michael McKean in “Young Doctors in Love” & Robert Hays in “Airplane”. It was demolished and it is now home to McDonald’s, Valley Bank and Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply.

Contributed by Randy Studer

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

rivest266
rivest266 on August 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Grand opening and aerial photo uploaded here.

DRIVEIN101
DRIVEIN101 on September 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

Final night of operation was September 5, 1982 with “Young Doctors In Love” and “Airplane”.

MichaelKilgore
MichaelKilgore on November 28, 2019 at 10:25 am

Boxoffice, Feb. 21, 1975: “Theatre Operators, Inc., which is headquartered in Bozeman, Mont., has taken over the operation of the Sky Hi Drive-In and the Sunset Drive-In located in Helena, Mont.”

MichaelKilgore
MichaelKilgore on January 13, 2020 at 8:41 am

The April 14, 1956 issue of Boxoffice ran a very lengthy article (sadly, without photos) of E. R. “Chub” Munger’s shift from county sheriff to first-time drive-in owner. There are tons of details, including screen sizes (40x60 feet to start, x80 in 1955), details of the annual car giveaway, and his favorite publicity stunt. “I believe it was the rooster project. I simply released a bunch of roosters for the audience to catch with the understanding that once caught, the roosters belonged to the catchers. The show put on by the audience that evening outdid the attraction on the screen.”

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