San Antonio’s Last Drive-In Survives and Thrives

posted by btkrefft on January 6, 2004 at 7:05 am

SAN ANTONIO, TX — When the Mission Drive-In opened in 1948, it was one of less than 100 outdoor theaters in Texas. By the golden years of the drive-in, the 50s, Texas had more than 500.

Since those days, the Mission, once just one of a number of San Antonio-area drive-in theaters, has survived the rise of large indoor megaplexes, cable, video and DVDs and the closing of all the other drive-ins in the area, according to a report in the San Antonio Express-News.

The Mission, a four-screener today, was nearly closed by its 90s operator, Regal Cinemas in 2001, but was taken over that year by Cinemark.

Last year, the Mission celebrated its season-opening with a 50s-themed including live music, food and dunking booths. Currently closed for winter, the Mission will reopen on March 1st.

Theaters in this post

Comments (8)

melissasatx on January 6, 2004 at 9:59 pm

John Santikos currently runs the Mission 4 Drive-In, in addition to some indoor theatres around San Antonio.

JerryPilato on January 8, 2004 at 2:07 pm

Hello John,
Is there any way that you might want to use one of your many screen spaces as a live theatre performance space in San Antonio? Crossroads seems to be perfect with its dinner style atmosphere. And probably the only place in the country where live perforamnce and film could share time. Of course most theatrical productions occur thur-sun evenings it would generate publicity. ATSA is producing the live stage production of The Rocky Horror Show with plans for other cult musical comedy’s geared for young and old alike. With very limited change to the theatre itself this is do-able. Thanks.
Jerry 210-722-5791

elcede on April 27, 2004 at 10:41 pm

Dear Sir: I know at one time, there were about 20 drive-ins in San Antonio. I can remember a few: The Trail, Loop 13, The Circle 81, The Mission Drive-in. I wonder if you could name the others? I would surely appreciate it. Thank you for your time. Rita Alcide

melissasatx on May 29, 2004 at 11:01 pm

Dear Rita,
There were a total of 22 Drive-Ins. Included along with your list were also Varsity, Towne Twin, Rigsby, Valley-Hi, Alamo, Bandera, El Charro, El Capitan, Fredericksburg Rd, Judson 4, Kelly, Lackland, Parkair, San Pedro, San Pedro 5, Hi-Park, Roxy, and Hi-Park. I have some pictures of the ones that you have mentioned. If you would like to see, please let me know or email me at Not all the theatres mentioned were owned at the end by Santikos. I know he did own the Varsity, Trail, Fred Rd, and San Pedro 5 for sure.

superdude480 on September 13, 2005 at 9:32 pm

Everyone forgot about the Embassy 4 drive in that was demolished. This is where the Embassy 14 indoor theater now sits. I know the embassy 4 was there cause when i was a kid i went there once to see a movie. And The mission was never going to be closed and demolished by regal cinemas because they only leased it from john santikos.

bubbles on April 19, 2007 at 2:02 pm

i would like to know if there is anything being done to presever the hoistory of the mission 4 drive in and if there anything ppl from san antonio can do to help save the mission and help getting it fix and clean up the drive bring alot to the community of san antonio and has alot of values Memories with alot of people and family i wud like to help in protecting wat the dive in movies bring to san antonio i think san antonio in all wud appericate it running back up again just let me know if there any thing ppl can do to help thank you

conky on June 16, 2008 at 12:05 am

Same here, bubbles (I know it’s been over a year heh).

I was just talking about this with my parents the other night and was curious so I decided to look it up. Is it still operational? My parents mentioned it was closed down which would be a shame. So many good memories there. I would love to go back and make it a regular thing with family and friends even though it’s quite a drive from the Northside. I will bookmark this site and check back in case anyone has any more information.

Does Mr. Santikos still own it? My father knows him as they have done business in the past, so it would be nice if my father can still get in touch with him in the event he does still have ownership.

Thank you.

conky on June 16, 2008 at 12:19 am

Quite a shame, I just went to this link right after posting my message above: /theaters/4432/
It appears it is gone for good. RIP Mission Drive-In! Definitely the last of an era, without question.

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