Like a sequel you’ve waited a really long time for, the drive-in movie theater is making a comeback. Central Illinois native Phil Doubet — who has equipped his 2008 Toyota Yaris with the sort of technology that lets one project movies onto the sides of barns and other such places — is part of a “guerilla movement” to bring back this pop culture icon.
Like a sequel you’ve waited a really long time for, the drive-in movie theater is making a comeback.
Central Illinois native Phil Doubet — who has equipped his 2008 Toyota Yaris with the sort of technology that lets one project movies onto the sides of barns and other such places — is part of a “guerilla movement” to bring back this pop culture icon.
Doubet hopes to introduce the drive-in to a new generation. Each weekend, he travels to a new location to screen shorts, cartoons and a feature film. Viewers can check his Web site, www.threethrees.com/schedule.html to find the location and featured movie a few days beforehand.
“I’ve been doing something like this for quite a few years at my house,” Doubet said. “I would invite people over and show movies on the garage door. Then I discovered on the Web that there’s a movement for people to have these mobile movies. And so I rigged up all the stuff inside my car so I could move from one place to another.”
Doubet uses an Epson projector, a marine battery, an FM converter and a PC. He downloads material from Archive.org. Last Friday at the corner of Route 116 and Carole Avenue in Hanna City, he screened various cartoons and shorts, including an episode of the Commando Cody serial “Radar Men from the Moon” and a Three Stooges clip, “Malice in the Palace.” The featured film was “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
According to Drive-Ins.com, a site that keeps tabs on the industry, there were more than 4,000 drive-ins by 1958. Then with television’s rise in popularity, the rising cost of land in the suburbs, and the birth of the multiplex, many drive-ins met their demise.
Doubet’s attendance levels aren’t huge, but he suspects they’ll grow as word gets out. After all, the screenings are free, and there’s no need to drop a wad of cash on expensive concessions — just pack the cooler.
“I like the idea of going to an outdoor movie with the stars overhead, opening the window and getting the cool air. I just like it, and I figured other people would, too,” Doubet said.
There is one hurdle he faces, however.
“I’m finding it harder and harder to find spots,” Doubet said. “(Last week) I found this spot down the road from me on Farmington Road, I was going to show it on a sign. But then I got to talking to some cops and I kind of got freaked out about that spot, so I decided to just move it to my house.”
Doubet is eyeing a location in Kickapoo this weekend. To find the upcoming movie schedule and location, visit www.threethrees.com/guerilla.html. If you have a suggested location or would like to offer up your land for a screening, e-mail Doubet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peoria Journal Star entertainment editor Danielle Hatch can be reached at (309) 686-3262 or email@example.com.