Drive-in movie theaters in northerly latitudes

Back when I was a young boy (late 70s, early 80s) I remember going to a few drive-in movies, right at the end of their era as they seemed to have all but completely disappeared by the time I was in my teens. At the peak of summer daylight I remember the movie didn’t start until nearly 10:00 at night due to the long daylight hours and being towards the western end of our time zone. Being in Idaho, we’re at a fairly northern latitude (approximately 43° N) where the sun doesn’t go down until nearly 10:00 PM on the summer solstice. Did this problem prevent drive-ins in Canada and Alaska from operating on days of peak daylight or did drive-ins even exist in these areas in spite of having late daylight summer hours? Did they have to start movies after 11:00 or midnight if they ran them at all?

I can’t answer your question directly but drive-in’s still exist. The Mendon Drive-In isn’t that far from my house. It is great and shows first-run movies. It is very popular too. It tends to be packed and a brand-new movie sometimes means a three-mile traffic jam on the road leading up to it with the police trying to get the traffic turned around because the drive-in is full more than an hour before start. It is a godsend when you have young children. There are a few other drive-ins still in existence in New England as well.

We are pretty far north as well and double-features often finish quite late but that is true from regular movies as well.

I’m not that far north, but there’s a drive-in a few miles from me called “The Sunset Drive-In.” The movies start, as the name implies, at sunset (or close to it.) On the longer summer days in June and July, this means closer to 9 or even 9:30 PM, and since it’s four screens each with a double feature, you might not get done until well after 1 AM.

In my travels through Alaska, I do not remember ever seeing a drive in theater. I could be mistaken, but I think I would have noticed.

OTOH - Those Canadians. Who know what’s up with them.

Well, since you asked :slight_smile: There used to be a few drive-ins around Montreal (down to one now, I think), and they would have double-features beginning at 9:30 or 10:00 pm. I believe these were only open from St-Jean Baptiste Day (June 24) to Labour Day. I remember my parents taking me to them, and I would only occasionally manage to stay awake for the second movie. Too bad, because that was generally the better one…

We did this recently. The Ford-Wyoming drive-in is still doing quite well. I pass it every day. If it weren’t so far that late at night, I’d’ve already gone. Although, this time of year, I suppose I could see a movie on my way home if I didn’t care to invite my wife.

Same thing here in Calgary - even though sunset wasn’t until past 10pm, the movies would start at sunset.

From here

Though the same article says (for 2006, I presume it’s still true) that none of them show first-run English movies anymore. There is a drive-in near Sherbrooke too, but it doesn’t show anything in English either (no surprise… English movies in Sherbrooke are few and far between!)

This wiki is interesting:

Do they still have the drive-in over in the NE? Actually, I think it’s SE, since it’s just on the other side of Memorial.

Yep, late starts. We rarely would stick around for the whole shebang.

What about places like northern Scandinavia, where the summer sun never sets at all?

(Does Europe even have drive-ins?)

Are you thinking of the Corral 4 on 17th Ave SE? Sadly It’s been gone since 1999 after the explosion & fire at Hub Oil next door. But yeah, I do remember going to that drive in and not being done till 2:00 am with the double features.

There’s also a drive-in in nearby St Albans.

In my hometown of Prince George, BC there is a drive-in. The city is at about 54 degrees North, so yes, the movies start pretty late in the summer time. In the winter they start at 3:30pm :wink:

Ooh, thanks for the dose of nostalgia. I was thinking of the St-Eustache drive-in myself, which is the only one in that list that’s really close to Montreal. I can’t see myself driving to Deauville or St-Hilaire just to see a movie. (My only access to a car is an occasional rental or borrow, so YMMV, quite literally.)

I have never seen any in Europe. (I lived in Sweden from 1967-69 and England 1973-77 and have traveled back periodically). I do recall having see/heard of movies shown outside on the side of a wall, but that was usually done in winter. As Shamozzle said, you can start pretty early during the winter months.

There was a drive-in movie in Anchorage when I was a kid in the 60s. It was called the Billikin Drive-In and did a booming business during the summer. The movies started late, and in mid-June could be a little dim for viewing, but who really went to the drive-in to see the show unless you were a loser? ::it wasn’t my fault; I was afraid of girls::

There is only one left in Sydney

I went to a drive-in years ago near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan close to the end of June. The problem isn’t so much when the sun set, as the length of twilight and how long it took to actually get dark.

Through my hazy memories (1986), I seem to remember the movie starting near 11PM, and the second of the double feature starting around 1AM. It was odd as the skies never got really dark, just a twilight and the sky lightening in the east as we drove home close to 3AM. Dawn was breaking as I got ready for bed after 3.

Sorry for the bump…

I’m always a little surprised at how close Boucherville/St-Hilaire actually is to the city… from the Jacques-Cartier bridge, it’s probably no more than a 20-25 minute drive, and all highway (132/20). But then again, I live on the Plateau. I suppose from other parts of the city, it’s a bigger pain in the neck!