Return of the drive-in

The old West-View drive-in theatre is available for purchase and could be a fantastic draw card for tourists, according to Charles Sturt University associate professor in communication Jane Mills. Photo: AMY GRIFFITHS
The old West-View drive-in theatre is available for purchase and could be a fantastic draw card for tourists, according to Charles Sturt University associate professor in communication Jane Mills. Photo: AMY GRIFFITHS

Do you remember going to the drive-in to see the latest films?

Do you remember sneaking mates in through the boot, or driving your parents’ car to take your sweetheart for a date at the movies under the stars?

The old West-View drive-in theatre up on Bourke hill is available for purchase and could be a fantastic drawcard for tourists, according to Charles Sturt University associate professor in communication Jane Mills.

Professor Mills’ area of expertise spans all things cinema and film and she said she’d love to see a drive-in theatre under the stars return to Dubbo.

“Wouldn’t that be great? Young people would have a new experience ... (and) older people could enjoy it all over again,” Professor Mills said.

“More and more Australians are going to the theatre to see movies despite the rise in popularity of DVDs and Blue Ray or other home cinema.”

Professor Mills also pointed out the popularity of all things “retro” among Generation Y.

“In fact, the increasing interest in retro is like a cultural revival,” she said.

Professor Mills drew attention to the growing number of shops popping up all over the country side selling homewares and collectables from the 1950s onwards, and said that the drive-in would appeal to a broad cross-section of the community.

Currently, there are only a handful of drive-in cinemas in NSW, the closest being in the Hunter Valley. Screening sessions are on weekends all year round, rain hail or shine, showing movies more regularly in the school holidays.

With Dubbo’s new DREAM festival based around the arts, the new festival’s committee chairman, John Walkom, said he recognised the appeal of film to the general public.

“We want the best festival in regional Australia,” Mr Walkom said.

“We have developed a strict criteria to select activities for the festival and quality outdoor films are right up there,” he said.

Being that there is demand for films and drive-in theatre, is there demand for Dubbo’s old site on the edge of town?

Real estate agent Andrew McDonald, from Andrew McDonald Commercial says the market is “narrow.”

“As far as using the land for a drive-in theatre there really is only that novelty appeal,” Mr McDonald said.

The site as it is still has the old screen, but could use a spring clean as far as the grounds go.

Professor Mills said if there was someone out there brave enough to develop the old theatre and return it to its former glory the possibilities could be endless

“A café with old film memorabilia, a retro shop - get the old car enthusiasts to come out and have shows,” Professor Mills said.

“If it could be done. There are a lot of people who would travel some distance to see a movie at an old drive-in theatre.”