Local drive-in movie theater stands the test of time

Published: Mar. 16, 2018 at 8:59 AM EDT
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Friday, March 16, 2018

(News 12 This Morning)

MONETTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Drive-in movie theaters are a distant memory for some communities, but not in the two-state.

We have the Big Mo.

The Monetta Drive-In Theater opened up in 1951 in between Columbia and Augusta. It closed down in 1986.

Drive-ins have always had a special place in Richard Boaz' heart. He says, "We used to go to the drive-in when I was courting back in the day and even after we got married we used to go to the drive in."

Richard and his wife Lisa moved to South Carolina a few decades ago. Richard, a history major, would purposely go out of his way to find "ruins" of old drive-ins when on the road.

One day he stopped by the Big Mo. He immediately fell in love with it.

He told his wife they should buy the closed down drive-in and fix it up. "Since 1999 we've been running it and enjoying it," he says.

Fast forward twenty seasons later and things are peachy. They've added two new screens, added play areas for kids, upgraded their projectors and have become a tradition for families in both the Augusta and Columbia areas.

Things have changed, but they still see some familiar faces. "We have regulars that come out every weekend and they are like family. You're asking them about their kids. They're asking about your kids," he says.

The drive-in experience is pretty unique Richard says. It is one of the best ways to catch a flick, "Its one of those experiences that is the quintessential private experience while also being the quintessential communal experience," he says.

There are challenges the movie theater business as a whole is facing. He says drive-ins are probably the most affected by these changes. It is going to be a challenge to keep the fields full, but they don't plan on going dark any time soon.

He says, "Everybody has a kitchen in their house, but they still go out to restaurants. I think the thing we have to provide is an experience that gets people out of the house and out to the drive-in to enjoy family time."

So they'll have the popcorn popped, the neon lights on, and tickets ready for you and your family all summer long.