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Movies under the Star

Settembre 2007
Sono sempre meno, circa 400, ma resistono ancora all’assedio dei multisala. Sono i mitici drive-in, simbolo dell’America spensierata anni 50.

di Julian Earwaker

File audio:

Drive In
Drive In
Chris Chester
Chris Chester

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

It’s dark and everyone’s eyes are glued to the action on the big screen. A gentle wind blows across the open field. There is a smell of popcorn and pizza in the air. Around 400 cars are parked in a large open-air auditorium. Families, couples and groups of friends are gathered together under the night sky: this is the classic American drive-in movie experience.
Terry Peters is general manager of the Motor Vu Drive In, in Dallas, Oregon. She says that, despite the growth of hi-tech home entertainment, drive-in movies are still a special experience for many people, whatever the weather:

Terry Peters (Standard American accent):

We have die-hard drive-in folks, they love coming to the drive-in. And I don’t know if it’s the excitement of being in their cars, having the freedom to sit in their cars and... look at a first-run movie, or just the... the idea of a drive-in theater; you know, you’re outside, you’ve got the air, you’ve got the stars, you’ve got, you know… I, you know, and they really don’t know, they can’t even give you an answer on why is it, why are you such a drive-in buff, you know? They just love it, there’s no reason. I have people that come and it’s raining, at the end of our season – and they know it’s going to rain! It’s been predicted for rain and I’ll still have 20,30 cars out here with their windshield wipers going and everything!

The Motor Vu Drive In opened back in 1953, during the heyday of drive-in movies. It has operated continuously ever since – and has expanded from 250 to 430 car spaces. It regularly sells out for big movies at weekends and its massive 15-meter-by-30-meter screen is the biggest in the state.
Some movie-goers prefer to sit outside, rather than inside their vehicles. At the drive-in theater in Milton-Freewater, in eastern Oregon, it is possible to bring chairs, sleeping bags, even your own sofa!


Because drive-in theaters only charge for individual vehicles, they offer great value for families and groups of movie-goers. Terry Peters remembers one van arriving at the Motor Vu Drive In with 15 people packed inside! Indeed, with tickets costing relatively little, most theaters make their money from selling fast food to the audience.
The audio systems used at drive-in movie theaters have improved dramatically over the years. And yet there are now only around 400 drive-ins left in the USA. Rising real estate prices have seen many of the theaters, which are normally open for only six months of the year, being sold for development. For anyone who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, this is a tragedy. This is because drive-in movies are much more than simply taking a drive to watch a movie on the big screen, says Chris Chester, a travel coordinator with Travel Oregon:

Chris Chester (Standard American accent):

I love drive-in movies. When I was growing up that’s the way of life: you’d go to the drive-in movies in the evening and it was your social life, you met your friends, you know, you dated, that’s... that’s where you went, was the drive-in movies – they just became your whole way of life. And they’re kind of a dying breed. Drive-ins are not as popular as they once were. So there’s fewer and fewer in the United States.

The Motor Vu Drive In, Dallas, Oregon is open from May to November and costs $16 per vehicle: 315 SE Fir Villa Road, Dallas, off Interstate 5/Route 22, 25 km west of Salem. For further information about US drive-in movies visit www.driveinmovie.com.

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glued - incollati.

blows - soffia.

gathered - raccolti.

despite the growth - nonostante la crescita.

whatever the weather - indipendentemente dalle condizioni atmosferiche.

die-hard drive-in folks - fanatici del drive-in.

first-run movie - film in prima visione.

buff - appassionato.

with their windshield wipers going - con i tergicristalli in funzione.

heyday - epoca d’oro.

sells out - fa il tutto esaurito.

massive - gigantesco.

sleeping bags - sacchi a pelo.

charge - fanno pagare.

van - furgone.

packed inside - stipati dentro.

have improved dramatically - sono drasticamente migliorati.

rising real estate prices - l’incremento dei prezzi degli immobili.

sold for development - venduti per altri usi.

you dated - ci si incon-trava con il fidanzato.

they’re kind of a dying breed - sono come una specie in via d’estinzione.