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Drive-in Theaters for Sale

by Released : 2021-03-05

Many people dream of owning and operating their own business. Some want to own a restaurant, others a retail store, others a brewery or distillery.  And then there are those whose dream many find a bit odd for this day and age – the dream of owning and operating a drive-in movie theater.  While many mistakenly think the drive-in theater is a relic of the 1950’s, they are still around, still entertaining people on warm summer nights, ad still fueling the fantasies of would be owners.

During the peak of the drive-in theater back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, there were over 4000 drive-ins operating in the United States.  Today, there are only about 320 remaining meaning there are only about 300 drive-in theater business owners (some owners own multiple drive-ins) in the United States.  So being a drive-in owner is an exclusive club these days which heightens the appeal for some.  Thoughts of bringing nightly entertainment under the stars to families during the happy months of summer is an appealing draw for many.  Others have fond memories of going to the drive-in in their youth and wish to recreate those feelings by owning one. 

But owning and operating a drive-in in today’s entertainment overloaded society is a rough business. Drive-in owners have to compete with more forms of on-demand entertainment than ever before.  They have to fight with the weather just to open as this past spring’s late arrival will attest.  At a time when many drive-ins were normally open, their lots were still covered in snow from the winter that just would not let go.  In addition, drive-in owners must deal with increasing land values and taxes, ever more demanding movie studios, increasing equipment cost and a host of other business hurdles. 

But for those who still wish to dream about owning a drive-in, here is your chance.  Below is a list of operating drive-in theaters in the United States currently for sale.  There are other former drive-ins for sale, but only ones currently in operation are listed below.  Most of the owners looking to sell are simply doing so in order to retire and they would love to see their drive-ins continue to operate versus being turned into another strip mall or other commercial development.  So if you have the desire, check these out. 

Sunset Drive-in

The Sunset Drive-in is a large, three screen drive-in located in Middleport, NY which is northern New York between Niagra Falls and Rochester.  The drive-in is one of New York's oldest and has been operating for over 70 years. In addition to its three screens, it has had a fully functioning restaurant/diner with table seating and takeout.

The drive-in is currently for salewith an asking price of $1.5 million. You can find its sale listing here.

5 Mile Drive-in and The Sunset Drive-in

For those that really want to take the plunge into drive-in ownership, one owner is selling two drive-ins, both located in Michigan.  The 5 Mile Drive-in is a single screen drive-in located in Dowagiac, Michigan.  Known as 'The Fiver', it has been operating since 1961.  The Sunset Drive-in is also a single screen drive-in located in Hartford, Michigan. The Sunset has been operating since 1948.

Both drive-ins are located in the bottom portion of Michigan and the owner is selling them together.  The asking price for both drive-ins is $449,000.

Henagar Drive-in

The Henagar Drive-in is a single screen drive-in theater located in Henagar, Alabama. It is a relatively new drive-in as it was just opened in 1999.  The Henagar Drive-in holds about 200 cars.  If you are interested in purchasing the Henagar Drive-in, you can contact the owner Kala Freeman directly at (256) 717-4971.

Hi-Way Drive-in

The Hi-Way Drive-in is a large 4 screen drive-in with a 600 car capacity located in Coxsackie, New York.  It has been in continious operation since the 1950's.  The current owners have owned the Hi-Way Drive-in since 1997 but are now in their 70's and are ready to retire.  The Hi-Way Drive-in is listed for sale for $975,000.

Shankweiler’s Drive-in

Shankweiler’s Drive-in is a single screen drive-in theater located in Orefield, PA and it is the most iconic on our list.  Shankweiler’s was the second drive-in ever opened (way back in 1934) and is currently the oldest operating drive-in in the world.  The current owners are in their 60’s and have owned Shankweiler’s since 1984 but are looking to retire.  They are asking $1.2 million for the 4 acre property which is still operating and making money. 

Weir’s Drive-in

The Weir’s Drive-in is located in Laconia, NH and is one of only three remaining drive-ins still operating in New Hampshire.  It was opened in 1949.  It is a large drive-in with 4 screens and a 1000 car capacity.  The owner had an agreement to sell the drive-in last year to a developer who was going to tear it down and build condominiums on the land.  However, that deal fell through over this past winter and so the Weir’s Drive-in is back open this season but still looking to sell.  But you might need a little extra to buy the Weir’s Drive-in as it is the most expensive on our list at $2.5 million.

Silver Drive-in

The Silver Drive-in is located in Johnstown, PA.  It is a single screen drive-in that has been in continuous operation since 1950. As with our other drive-ins, the owner who is in his 70’s is looking to retire and slow down a little.  He hopes he can find an owner to buy it and continue to operate it as a drive-in theater.  Compared to the previously mentioned drive-ins, the Silver Drive-in is a bargain with an asking price of $699,000 for its 8 ½ acres of land.  The Silver Drive-in converted to digital projection a few years back and is continuing to operate normally.

Graham Drive-in

The Graham Drive-in is a single screen drive-in located in Graham, TX.  It was opened in 1948 and is one of the oldest remaining drive-ins in Texas. Back in 2013, the Graham Drive-in won a contest sponsored by Honda awarding the winner the needed funds to convert from 35mm film to digital.  The owners of the Graham are also looking to retire and are hopeful someone with their same passion for this drive-in will buy it and continue to operate it as it is an important fixture of the town of Graham.  We do not have an asking price for the Graham, so maybe give them a call and make them an offer. 

Skyview Drive-in

The Skyview Drive-in is located in Litchfield, Illinois and is the last operating drive-in along the famed Route 66 in Illinois.  The Skyview has been open since 1950 and has been upgraded.  16 Acre Theater with Grass Play Areas, a 42′ x 52′ Movie Screen, 13 Rows of Parking accommodates. 1950s Era Concession Stand refurbished in 2011 and a 1950s style double lane Ticket Booth.

At the time of this writing, the Skyview is currently for sale for $420,000. 
For more info contact: John Eichenlaub at 618.277.4400.

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