I am very sad to report that in September of 2013, the Apache Drive-In Theater in Globe, Arizona has closed permanently.
The single-screen theater opened in 1954 and has provided the residents of Globe (population: 7,457) with a place to enjoy movies under the stars for almost 60 years. The final showing was "American Graffiti" on September 28, 2013.
The Apache Drive-In faced the same issue that affects many other small, independent cinemas nationwide. Movie studios are increasingly switching to digital projection for viewing of movies, and theaters must upgrade their equipment or suffer the extra expense of renting 35mm films. For many smaller theaters, the cost simply becomes too great.
Current owner Bobby Hollis of Hollis Cinemas was quoted in an article for Cronkite News that the cost of converting to a digital projector would be around $130,000.
At one time, there were an estimated 4,000 drive-in theaters in America during the post-war boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Today, there are just 357 theaters left according to a 2013 report.
The news of the Apache Drive-In closing comes on the heels of the Scottsdale 6 drive-in theater, which closed down in September of 2011. According to the website Drive-Ins.com, over 50 different drive-in theaters have come and gone in Arizona. Now, there is just one remaining drive-in theater in Arizona: the Glendale 9.