Did you know that the City of Miami had one of the nation’s earliest drive-in movie theaters? On February 25, 1938, the Miami Drive-In Theater opened at NW 7th Avenue and NW 81st Street, charging 35 cents per person admission. Forest Whitaker once said, “When I was a kid, the only way I saw movies was from the back seat of my family’s car at the drive-in.” He isn’t alone. A lot of us remember family movie nights at the local drive-in theater; my mom would sneak us into the Dixie Drive-In or the Tropicaire to see horror movies. But what is a fond memory for most Baby Boomers took a long hiatus when the last two Miami drive-in theaters closed down in the mid-1980’s.
Enter Josh Frank and his romantic anniversary surprise:
“I was running an art complex on the east side of Austin, which is basically Austin’s Wynwood,” Frank said this week as he scurried around the Blue Starlite, preparing for a dry-run screening. “I was looking for a way to celebrate my six-month anniversary with my girlfriend Jessica [who is now his wife]. There was this cool alley in the back of the building, so I painted a white screen on a wall, took a projector and a couple of drive-in speakers I bought on eBay and surprised her with a screening of Grease, which is her favorite movie.”
His wife watched the film, but Frank was up to something more ambitious. He calculated that the alley could accommodate about 15 cars in a spot two minutes from downtown Austin. Back home that night, he researched drive-ins online and discovered no new ones were opening anywhere in the country.
“I started thinking it would be pretty cool — the concept of making a drive-in that fits into the existing city,” Frank said. “I decided to open one there in that alley as a kind of art installation and see if people would show up. I had nothing to lose.”
The result was so successful that over three years, the Austin drive-in has relocated twice, expanding its capacity to some 70 cars. Earlier this summer, after his wife got a job offer in Miami, the couple moved to South Florida. Although Frank makes a living as a writer (he’s the author of several books, including Fool the World: An Oral History of a Band Called Pixies), he immediately started thinking about recreating his drive-in experiment here.
After contemplating larger venues in Coral Gables or on Virginia Key, Frank settled on the thriving arts district of Wynwood.
That was in October 2013. With a good two-year run at the 24-car location in Wynwood, history repeated itself and Josh needed to expand. Last month, Blue Starlite opened its new location at Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove. Billing themselve’s as “the world’s first mini-urban drive-in movie theater”, Josh says they offer “a nostalgic drive-in movie experience in a close-in urban setting with modern amenities.”
… the Blue Starlite houses fifty cars in a boutique atmosphere in the center of the city. It features authentic concessions, real drive-in movie speakers and screens Baby Boomer and Gen X/Y childhood favorites, indie films, art house, cult, and drive-in classics. It is a totally unique experience that appeals to a broad demographic seeking a hip, yet authentic, entertainment experience.
This month’s movies include:
• Hocus Pocus
• The Rocky Horror Picture Show
• Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
• Little Shop of Horrors
To celebrate Halloween, Blue Starlite will be serving Butter Beer during the Harry Potter movie, and will have car-to-car trick-o- treating at the Little Shop of Horrors showing. Blue Starlite is also available for private events.
Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in Theater | 2476 South Bayshore Drive • Miami, Florida 33133 (Enter at the Kennedy Park Parking Lot/U.S. SAILING Center Entrance) | Satellite location open on select nights December through March at Virginia Key Beach on the RIckenbacker causeway | 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, FL 33149 | http://www.miamiurbandrivein.com
#bluestarlite #bluestarlitedrivein #drivein