Posts Tagged ‘Northfield Drive-In’

DSC_0094A while back, there was a mediateacher.net post about a tradition of American moviegoing that combines many of the cultural values of the United States: cars and mobility, family entertainment, take-out food, and entrepreneurship: the Drive-In.  Despite what many predictions forecast, there are still independently run theaters all across the country, at least those that have been able to navigate the conversion to digital projection.  Depicted through these images is a visit to one for a recent family outing to see Zootopia and Finding Dory.  The story of the Northfield Drive-In (which straddles Massachusetts and New Hampshire) is a very interesting tale of media economics, technology, and moviegoing.  Right here and now, the story of a Friday night at the drive-in will be told in pictures.




This is a PACKED house. Back rows here at #9.








A uniquely American tradition.



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In a blog post from two months ago, I featured a google doodle that highlighted cinema pioneer Eadweard Muybridge, and today they have another excellent animated doodle (yes, it’s a real winner, check out the entire animation!).  This time it is for the anniversary of the opening of the first drive-in theater in the United States 79 years ago, when Richard Hollingshead Jr. opened the first drive-in theater on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey.

Many questions can be raised when thinking and talking about drive-ins: why did drive-ins begin, when and why did they flourish, and why did they dwindle away?  Why are drive-ins a particularly American phenomenon?  How have people experienced moving images over the years?  How do you experience them today?  How have the economics of movie distribution and of independent theaters (such as drive-in cinemas) evolved over the past century?  What percentage of a movie theater’s profits derive from its concession stand (which in turn brings up one of the most iconic aspects of drive-ins: the history of advertising linked to concession stands)?

Northfield Drive-In in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

Fascinating investigations can be made on how motion picture marketing, distribution, and screening occur, particularly from the vantage point of a local perspective.  What are the theaters in close proximity to one’s community?  Are they only chain theaters?  Are there other public venues for watching motion pictures?  What options exist for television and cable viewing?  What is the percentage of viewing that you do through streaming sources?  How often are you paying any motion picture creators when you watch moving images?

In the projection booth

In my own region, a favorite theater of my family has been the Northfield Drive-In in Northfield, Massachusetts.  Like many of the drive-ins still in operation, it has a rich history of entrepeneurship and family ownerships.  It is also entertaining to consider the full social, aesthetic, and gastronomic aspects of moviegoing, of which drive-ins offer many provocative angles!

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