Georgetown Drive-in theater in southern Indiana celebrates 70 years

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It's a travel back in clip arsenic you participate the Georgetown Drive-In, where hotdogs leap into buns during intermission and a neon 1957 Chevy greets you astatine the entrance.

The cash-only, two-screen Georgetown Drive-In, which opened successful 1951 at 8200 IN-64 successful southern Indiana, is celebrating its 70th twelvemonth and has outlasted the 20 different drive-ins that erstwhile dotted the Louisville country landscape. That's partially due to the fact that of the emotion it gets from proprietor Bill Powell.

Powell knows his mode astir an aged schoolhouse drive-in talker — he’s repaired each 1 of them astatine the drive-in that's been his location distant from home many times over. Now 60, he sits astatine a paper table, facing the movie surface and solders talker wires portion determination is inactive daylight.

“My parent and dada bought this spot erstwhile I was 4 years aged backmost successful 1965. I started fixing speakers erstwhile I was 9. I started moving the movie projectors and truly got progressive with it and haven’t looked backmost since," helium told The Courier Journal. "Now my kids are involved, my girl and nephew enactment for me. My woman takes attraction of the concession stand, and I instrumentality attraction of everything retired here. That’s however we support the spot going."

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It's a household affair, and it attracts families of each kinds, who yearn for the nostalgia of drive-in movie theaters. It's changed implicit the years, but the propulsion of a drive-in remains the same — simple, household fun.

Powell said he'll never hide 1989, the twelvemonth helium took implicit operations and the summer’s blockbuster movie, "Batman," which starred Jack Nicholson arsenic the Joker and Michael Keaton arsenic Batman.

It was a risky twelvemonth for Powell and the drive-in.

“I didn’t person recognition established with the movie distributors. That was a precise costly movie, and I had to get wealth to wage for the guarantee. In bid to get the apical tally movies, you person to person bully credit, you person to wage your bills. Otherwise, you don’t get it,” Powell said.

Now successful its 70th twelvemonth of operation, the quaint confederate Indiana instauration has survived the COVID-19 pandemic, being 1 of the fewer places wherever societal distancing was readily achievable.

During the coronavirus pandemic, drive-in movie theaters, wherever customers beryllium successful the information of their ain cars, person go premier venues for each types of radical entertainment.

"People are looking for much than the amusement worth of a movie. They are looking for thing to bash arsenic a family, arsenic a community, a societal enactment that is amusive and unique," Stephen Sauerbeck, who owns the Sauerbeck Family Drive-in successful La Grange, antecedently told The Courier Journal. "A drive-in is decidedly a unsocial option."

And portion concern boomed during the pandemic, the emergence of nonstop to streaming of first-run movies, a effect of the pandemic, has created a caller menace to the movie business. 

Drive-ins person been beset by challenges since the 1970s and now, “streaming is sidesplitting the business, not lone here, but particularly astatine the indoor cinema complexes,” Powell laments.

“I had precocious hopes of getting the Pixar movie, 'Luca,' but it is 100% streaming only. I don’t cognize what’s up with that.”

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Despite seeing thousands of movies successful his 56-year career, Powell says helium can’t prime a favorite, but helium says successful the summer, helium likes it erstwhile helium has an animated children’s movie connected the screen, and successful the fall, determination is thing amended than a scary movie.

Alas, “there hasn’t been 1 of those successful a agelong time,” Powell said.

For movies and showtimes astatine the Georgetown Drive-In, visit georgetowndrivein.com.

Reach lensman Pat McDonogh astatine pmcdonogh@courier-journal.com.

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