Written by Danielle Taylor | Photos courtesy of the Moonlite Drive-In Theatre
You may think that drive-in movie theaters went the way of sock hops, poodle skirts, and McCarthyism after the 1950s, but a few still continue to delight moviegoers across the country, including one right here in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region. Every weekend through the spring, summer, and fall, Brookville’s Moonlite Drive-In Theatre entertains audiences under a blanket of stars, just as it did more than half a century ago.
The Moonlite first opened in 1952, but as increasing costs forced many drive-in theaters out of business in the following decades, Brookville’s theater became one of the casualties of the trend. Fortunately, drive-in theater enthusiast and businessman Jim Lipuma purchased the property in 1996 and began showing movies again in 1997. He believes only 27 drive-ins still operate in Pennsylvania, down from hundreds in the 1960s.
In their early days, drive-ins transmitted sound through speakers fixed on poles at each parking space or hung on a patron’s window, and movies were projected from giant reels of film. Today, the Moonlite hosts its own FM radio station, and moviegoers get audio via their car’s speakers on 106.9 FM. The theater also converted to digital projection a few years ago, giving today’s viewers sharp visuals along with crisp sound.
To give his customers the best bang for their buck, Lipuma only charges $8 admission for adults and $4 for kids, and each week, he serves up a double feature. However, most of those fees go back to the film company, and the theater’s operating costs for equipment, electricity, property costs, employee wages, etc., come almost entirely from concession stand income. In order to keep this slice of Americana open for generations to come, Lipuma asks his patrons to purchase food and drinks from the concession stand and come regularly to enjoy shows.
Brookville’s Moonlite Drive-In Theatre opened for the 2018 season last week, and this Friday and Saturday, you can catch Rampage starting at 7:50 p.m. followed by Ready Player One at 9:50 p.m. Since this Friday will fall on the 13th, moviegoers who come that night can also enjoy a showing of Friday the 13th after the double feature at 12:15 a.m. The box office will open at 7 p.m., so come early to get a good spot and stock up on snacks.
Find other interesting places to visit in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to VisitPAGO.com or calling (814) 849-5197.