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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Saving The Odeon Drive-In! (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Saving The Odeon Drive-In!
Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 03-23-2004 07:24 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
After a long winter season of anticipation for opening night at Winnipeg's last remaining drive-in, I find out from one of my former managers that the drive-in won't be re-opening- and the move's for good.

The Odeon, built in 1964, would have celebrated its 40th year of operation. It held 998 cars, and in its hey day, use to run on weekends during the winter.

This was Winnipeg's last drive-in. Few remain in Manitoba. A company spokesman for Cineplex Galaxy confirmed the drive-in is closed permanently, due to lack of customers and finances to pay the bills. There are currently no plans to tear the theatre down.

I spent all of today alerting the local media and encouraging friends and family to drop a line to to let them know what we thought. You can do the same (any Manitoban lurkers out there).

I will be in the newspaper tomorrow, and I'll post the article when its published online.

So, my question: How do you save the drive-in? Are there any drive-in organizations who will help you fight?

Thank-you and good night.

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Ron Lacheur
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 643
From: British Columbia, Canada
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 03-23-2004 08:40 PM      Profile for Ron Lacheur   Email Ron Lacheur   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I know what you mean. The last drive-in in BC, the Hillcrest closed for good this past September. They are building a mall in it's place.

Rumor has it that they are opening it up again in a different location, but nothing is in cement.


After posting this, I went and lurked on and someone mentioned that apparently they are re-opening it as the " Twlight Drive-In ". Let's hope this happens.

[ 03-24-2004, 11:52 AM: Message edited by: Ron Lacheur ]

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Floyd Justin Newton
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 559
From: Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Registered: Jun 2002

 - posted 03-24-2004 07:35 AM      Profile for Floyd Justin Newton   Email Floyd Justin Newton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How about $$$ and lots of it, or lack of it? It takes a lot of
money just to unlock the front gate every day. [Roll Eyes]


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Jim Spohn
Film Handler

Posts: 95
From: Bakersfield, CA, USA
Registered: Jan 2003

 - posted 03-24-2004 10:31 AM      Profile for Jim Spohn   Email Jim Spohn   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Andrew.. Good luck on your endever!! ... Jim

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 03-24-2004 04:13 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The drive-in actually had a huge sewage lagoon behind it and new property laws coming into effect are forcing them to close, as the cost of hooking up to Headingley's or Winnipeg's sewage system or adding a septic tank would be way to prohibitive.

Guess I gotta start fund raising now! [Wink]

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 03-24-2004 08:20 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A link cannot be posted as viewing the article online requires a subscription.


It's finally The End for city's last drive-in
Outdoor theatre misses 40th year

Wed Mar 24 2004

By Randall King and Trevor Wilhelm

The Odeon Drive-In Theatre is following the fate of many outdoor screens.

Coming to the drive-in screen near you: nothing.
Cineplex Odeon confirmed yesterday that Winnipeg's last outdoor movie screen, the Odeon Drive-In, built in 1964 just west of the city's perimeter, will not open for its 40th year of operation.
Pat Marshall, Cineplex Odeon's vice-president of communications, said the reasons for the closure are similar to those that have killed most drive-ins across North America.

"They take up a huge amount of real estate and cost a great deal to operate," she says. "The maintenance costs have become prohibitive. As they get older, they're even harder to maintain."

Marshall, a former Winnipegger now based in Toronto, says she is as sad as anyone about the demise of the drive-in, which was invented in the '30s and boomed in the '50s, '60s and '70s before falling on hard times in the '80s.

"Drive-ins were a part of my childhood as they were for a lot of us prior to the advent of these entertainment destinations we have now," she says. "It's been declining over the years in terms of attendance because of the mega-plexes."

Typically, market surveys suggest younger people aren't as inclined to go to the drive-in as their parents. But that was not the case with 16-year-old St. Paul's High School student Andrew McCrae, who learned about the drive-in's closure when he phoned Cineplex-Odeon to inquire about getting a summer job there. McCrae, from Elie, remembers seeing his "very first movie" at the Odeon nine years ago: Casper.

"It was very, very neat," he says.

McCrae was doubly disappointed. If he didn't get a job at the theatre, he was still planning to patronize it.

"I just got my driver's licence this year and I was looking forward to going," he says, adding that many of his friends are equally surprised about the closure. "I started telling a lot of my friends from school, and everyone I told couldn't believe it."

McCrae says he and his father commuted daily past the Odeon. "Every time we passed it, my dad would say, 'That's not going to be there much longer.' But when I told him it was closing, he said, 'I'm shocked.'"

The Odeon, capable of parking 998 vehicles, had a good run. It had a monopoly on the local drive-in market for the last 19 years after the demolition of the Starlite Drive-In in 1985. In 1975, when the number of Canadian drive-ins peaked at 300, Winnipeg had five drive-ins, including the Northmain, the Airliner and the Pembina, the city's first drive-in, which opened in 1949.

In Manitoba, only a handful of drive-ins remain, including theatres in Brandon, Morden and Clear Lake, according to Terry Stannard, president of the Motion Picture Theatre Association of Manitoba. Stannard is not sure which of the remaining theatres will open this spring.

"It's too bad, but it's a sign of the times," he said. "The way movie theatres and distributors operate now, the drive-in just doesn't fit anymore."

The fatal blow for the Odeon Drive-In may have been its lack of sewage facilities. The drive-in was not connected to sewage systems in Headingley or Winnipeg. It operated a "sewage lagoon," meaning any sewage created by the theatre was pumped into a nearby field. The cost of hooking into a sewage system, Stannard says, may have meant sacrificing what meagre profits the theatre might have made.

Drive-in movie-goers have always felt the thrill of anticipation when the outdoor movie screen flashed the familiar message: "10 minutes to Showtime!"

In Winnipeg, it appears, showtime is never.


Man, it sure would seem worth it to fundraise the cost of trneching a sewage pipe or installing a tank.

Should I save the drive-in?

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Erick Akers
Arse Kicker

Posts: 201
From: Dallas, TX, USA
Registered: May 2001

 - posted 03-24-2004 09:15 PM      Profile for Erick Akers   Email Erick Akers   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

A septic tank system should'nt be all that expensive to install; come to think of it, I wonder why they chose open field sewage in the first place? [Roll Eyes]

I don't know the particulars of the laws concerning septic systems there, but you may want to check.

As for trenching a line,
Unless either municipality will split the cost (feeling that the business is a viable asset), that's way out of the question!!!

Another possibility is a in ground holding tank, and a contract sewage hauler. Here in Dallas,the Water Department's sewage treatment plant only charges $15.00 to dump a
10,000 gallon sewage tanker.
Of course, then there's the contractors fee for hauling the [bs] away! [Big Grin]

The grim reality is that Galaxy doesn't want to spend time to install a septic system or foot the bill for one!

That's a shame really, because septic system design has really come a long way technologically, and could easily handle the waste material generated by the D.I. [thumbsup]

A septic system wouldn't have the sewer line fees charged monthly.

By all means, try what you can to Fight the closing!!!
The Canadian Drive In's are fast becoming a rare item indeed and worth saving. [thumbsup]

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Ron Keillor
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 166
From: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Registered: Jul 2003

 - posted 03-24-2004 09:40 PM      Profile for Ron Keillor   Email Ron Keillor   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
... the ONEX corporation which owns Galaxy/Cineplex has the theatre arm up for sale. Reducing the size of the assets will make the sale easier, the same way that Onex was able to pick up Cineplex after it downsized following the "bankruptcy" in 2001.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9460
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 03-25-2004 11:19 AM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A septic may be very expensive as Winnepeg is on the watershed and flod plain of the red river not sure where the drivein is in location to that but the permits for any change would probabl very costly to do

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Robert E. Allen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1078
From: Checotah, Oklahoma
Registered: Jul 2002

 - posted 03-25-2004 04:30 PM      Profile for Robert E. Allen   Email Robert E. Allen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

Contact the United Drive-in Theatres Owners Association at

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 03-26-2004 08:34 AM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for all the replies everybody!

Got a petition started, which everyone seems really interested in signing (at school).

*Why did the folder icon have a check mark on it?

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Jeremy Fuentes
Mmmm, Dr. Pepper!

Posts: 1168
From: Corpus Christi, TX United States
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 03-26-2004 08:48 AM      Profile for Jeremy Fuentes   Email Jeremy Fuentes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The check mark means that you have contributed to that thread.

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Tim Reed
Better Projection Pays

Posts: 5244
From: Northampton, PA
Registered: Sep 1999

 - posted 03-26-2004 02:25 PM      Profile for Tim Reed   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is easy: Porta-Potty.

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Erick Akers
Arse Kicker

Posts: 201
From: Dallas, TX, USA
Registered: May 2001

 - posted 03-27-2004 01:16 AM      Profile for Erick Akers   Email Erick Akers   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Otherwise known as a Shit & Split!!! [Devil]

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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

 - posted 03-27-2004 01:56 AM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ah yes, but porta-potties add the expense of pumping/etc. I don't know how much that would actually cost but there is still a cost there.

As far as a septic system goes, if one had to put in a mound system it would be quite expensive. I can't remember how much it cost my parents to have one put in but if I had to guess I'd say $10,000 wouldn't be to far off. Gordon also brings up a good point about permits.

From a business point of view, if the drive in is struggling in the first place-barely staying in the black if not slightly in the red-an expenditure of that size could very well spell the end of its operations. To bad but theatre companies are businesses, and while some focus on the 'bottum line' to much it does need to be looked at from time to time.

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