When the drive-in screen south of Brandon was toppled, it took the dreams of more than a few locals with it.
Sure, the old Lucky Star Drive-In Theatre had been closed for more than a decade, and a truck stop filled some of the old spaces, but as long as the screen stood, it was a visual reminder — and a thought that, you know, if someone had the money…
Still, time and technology march on, and neither have been kind to drive-in theatres.
What was once the ultimate getaway for teenagers with cars morphed into a family-friendly evening out. Baby wailing? Kids asleep? The back seat of the station wagon is better than the sticky floor of a regular theatre.
But now it’s not clear what niche drive-ins fit into. Modern cars may be more comfortable than ever, but modern bucket seats don’t lend themselves to cuddling or canoodling. And even clear FM-transmitted sound doesn’t measure up to home theatre systems that are only getting bigger and better.
Drivers faced with $1.30 gasoline may also be leery of spending a whole evening idling their car so they can defog the windshield or keep the wipers running.
Perhaps only nostalgia keeps the remaining few Manitoba drive-ins flickering to life every summer.
The Stardust Drive-in located in Morden will have showings this season, as will Killarney’s Shamrock Drive-In and Flin Flon’s Big Island Drive-In.
We plan to spend a few weekend evenings out under the stars. Hope to see you there.