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Drive-ins Driven Out
Aired August 22, 2003 - 19:57 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And finally tonight, the drive-in movie has gone the way of 8-track cassettes and Beta Max.
We asked CNN's Bruce Burkhardt to look at why they are so popular and why they are not anymore.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Maybe this was the first memory, pajamas and the playground.
And maybe this was the second memory, a playground in the car.
And maybe that was the mystique of drive-in movies, a place where both activities could coexist.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's something magical about watching a movie outside under the stars.
BURKHARDT: Susan and Don Sanders have tried to recapture some of the magic in their two books and the documentary film about drive-ins.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, folks, and a hearty welcome to out drive-in theater.
BURKHARDT: he drive-in movie, a perfect blend of so many distinctly American loves: cars, movies, freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At drive-in, you could talk or you could smoke or you could drink or you could pretty much do whatever you wanted to, and that's the way people like to do and they could do that at the drive-in.
BURKHARDT: We tend into too speak of drive-ins in the past tense, even though they're still around -- a few.
(on camera): 1958. That was the peak year for drive-ins. Nearly 5,000 dotted the American landscape. Today, only a few more than 400 remain.
(voice-over): Blame it on urban sprawl and rising land values. Or blame it on TV and the VCR. Or blame it on too much light.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first nail in the coffin, I guess you might say, for drive-ins was the passage of daylight savings time. Because all of a sudden, the family, who used to be able to come to the drive-ins, say, around 7:30 in the evening -- now they could still come at 7:30, but the first film wouldn't really start until 9:00.
BURKHARDT: They may have faded from the landscape, but few things light up the big screen of our memories like a drive-in movie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, as a child, I mean, I used to be so excited just to sit there with my dad and watch the movie and not just be stifled.
BURKHARDT (on camera): Back in the hey day of drive-ins, the 50's and 60's, the movies most of the time were pretty lousy, cheesey, sci-fi or horror flicks. But then again, it really didn't matter. More often than not, at least in the teenage years, the main attraction was sitting right next to you.
(voice-over): Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Atlanta.
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