Sunrise Drive-In

8149 Greenback Lane,
Fair Oaks, CA 95628

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Sunrise Drive-In

The Sunrise Drive-In was located close to the Sunrise Mall in Fair Oaks, a suburb of Sacramento, CA.

This drive-in opened on July 3, 1963 with James Stewart in “The Greatest Show on Earth”, Elizabeth Taylor in “Elephant Walk” & Richard Burton in “The Bramble Bush”. It had parking for 1,258 cars. It closed and was demolished in 2004.

Contributed by jason balch

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

elfreunder on September 3, 2005 at 2:38 pm

Hi BJ, I loved your post. I thought my friends and I were the only ones that still tried to copy the old Sunrise Drive in annoucements and over those old/classic speakers! We still try to copy Fred’s Classic voice to this very day. Anybody who went to Sunrise Drive In, would know that great and unforgetable voice.

From about 1972 to 1980, we spent a lot of time there. Winter or Summer, we loved it. After getting out of college, we still went there, but not as much. Remember the old dusk till dawn days? I believe it was 4 movies? I had a dead battery there one night (winter and raining) and there was only 1 other car left! Or the time there was a fire (next door) on the 4th of July and Fred had to stop the movie because it was too bright to see the film. We all went over and watched them put out the fire, and then went back to the cars! The bathrooms were a bit small, but unforgetable. I remember finding someone sleeping in a stall one night. Man, some great times at Sunrise. I was able to take our daughter there before it closed.

But the greatest moment came when (about 1 year before it closed) we talked to Fred for about 5 minutes. My friends and I were first in-line and it was not open yet. We got out of the car and shook his hand, and told Fred how much we loved Sunrise and that he was somewhat of a legend with his voice. He smiled and kind of laughed, and said thanks. Over the years, that was something that never did change, the classic voice.

I would be super interesting in a DVD that had anything to do with Sunrise Drive in.

  • Eric
kencmcintyre on January 26, 2006 at 7:32 pm

The theater opened in 1963 and had a capacity for 1258 cars.

JasonBalch on May 13, 2006 at 9:12 am

The Marquee was removed yesterday. The land has been regraded, and it appears that development will begin soon on the former Drive-in site.

BJNartker on June 30, 2006 at 11:33 pm

This is BJ Nartker Again. It’s June 20, 2006. – I’m in the process of creating a DVD about the Sunrise Drive-In. I’ve just completed interviews with Fred Gabrial and June Cranor – the owners and operators of the Sunrise Drive-In. I have old video, photos and artwork of the Sunrise Drive-In. I’m in the middle of recreating the entire Sunrise Drive-In with a 3D program. (The Sunrise Drive-In is Rising like, the Phoenix, from the ashes!) You will see the Sunrise in it’s glory days! The Marque will be new and lit once again! I also have old video footage of a few of the other old drive-ins from the Sacramento area. The Highlander, Thunderbird, Westerner and even a bit of the Eldorado Drive-In from Eldorado will be on the DVD. Most of the old footage is not the best of quality as it was taken twenty plus years ago with home video equipment. Hopefully the quality of some of the footage won’t diminish the pleasure of seeing the Sunrise once more.

I would still like to get some good footage of the scenes from “Hunter’s Moon” If that person could get back to me again I would appreciate it. I would love to include those snipits on the DVD. I would also like to make an appeal to those of you out there who may have either footage of the drive-in and old Drive-In commercials, photos, or other. If you do please contact me.

This is a labor of love for me and certainly not a money making project. But if you have contibutions you’d like to let me use, I would certainly appreciate it and be happy to send you a copy of the finished DVD as a momento and souvenier of The Wonderful Sunrise Drive-In. You can contact me at or – 360-910-2694. Email is sometimes a faster way to reach me.

BJNartker on August 6, 2006 at 7:31 pm

This is BJ again. I’m still busily working on the DVD about the Sunrise Drive-In. The recreation of the drive-in in 3D is the real time killer. The walls of the snackbar are up along witht the floor tiles being laid, the screen is up and the street Marque is finished. For those of you my fellow geeks out there interested in the Sunrise Drive-In. if you go to my web site and click on the button that reads “Illustrations” I’ve posted the first rendering of the Marque looking new and lit up on my web site. It looks the way it did on opening night back in July 3, 1963. So if you want a sneak peek go to my web site at:

I’ve decided to take Fred’s opening line and use it as the name for the DVD. “Welcome again Ladys & Gentlemen to the Sunrise Drive-In” Still interestd in hearing from anyone who may have photos, video or old drive-in movie commercials.


Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on March 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Goggle Earth 1993..With all the great coments here, does anybody have any pictures to share?

kandyggurl916 on December 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

i really wished i couldve experience all the good things everyone has said about this drive in.

Tim Hale
Tim Hale on January 4, 2014 at 11:00 pm

The memories i have of this drive in theater.My farther and brother and i would come to this theater every friday night for years.I must of seen thousands of movies here literally.Breaks my heart that it is gone forever and only exists in photos and in the memeries of those whom would come to see a show there.

davidcoppock on October 6, 2018 at 3:15 am

Opened on 3/7/1963. Site is now houses.

rivest266 on May 4, 2019 at 5:31 pm

July 3rd, 1963 grand opening ad posted.

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