Only five drive-in theaters remain in state

Q: Twenty-something years ago we used to go to the Starlight Drive-in Theatre. Is it still around? Do drive-ins still exist?

A: Yes, the Starlight Drive-in is now known as Starlight Six Drive-In Theatre. It is the closest of the five drive-in theaters remaining in Georgia, located in DeKalb County off Moreland Avenue.

For the history buffs, according to the New York Film Academy, the first patented drive-in was opened in 1933, by Richard Hollingshead in New Jersey. He created it as a solution for people, like his mother, who were unable to comfortably fit into smaller movie theater seats.

Built in 1949, Starlight is Atlanta’s only remaining classic drive-in theater. It shows first-run movies on four screens with an up-to-the-minute digital projection system.

According to the April 2004 issue of Atlanta magazine, managing partner Teri Oldknow said that many drive-ins were built without longevity in mind. “The whole concept of the drive-in was to develop it as cheaply as you could,” he told the magazine. “After 25 or 30 years, when everything is run down, you just sell it. It was a land bank, really.”

Starlight opened as a solo screen drive-in. In 1956, according to DriveInMovie.com, it opened a second screen. With competition mounting, four more screens were added in 1982.

By 1998, Starlight became the last drive-in in Atlanta. In 2013, the Starlight upgraded to digital projectors.

The state had over 130 drive-ins during the middle 1950s, according to the website. Only five remain in the state: Atlanta, Blue Ridge, Jesup, Tiger and Trenton.

“With more than 60 years of great drive-in movies our loyal patrons have made the Starlight into an Atlanta landmark,” according to the theatre.

Gone are the outside speakers. The movies’ audio is broadcast through your FM car radio. You can watch movies from your car or sit in folding chairs in front of the screen.

For details, go to https://starlightdrivein.com

- Flea market: During the day on weekends, the Starlight hosts a flea market with free parking and reasonable admission fee.

Actual Factual Georgia runs on Sundays. If you’re new in town or have questions about this special place we call home, ask us. E-mail your request to atlactualfact@gmail.com.

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