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Apache Drive-In Closes

By: Linda Gross

Nearly 60 years of movie memories under the big open skies is coming to a close this fall when the Apache Drive-In will lock its gates forever.

“We’ve known this day was coming,” says Bobby Hollis, whose family owns the fourplex cinema in town as well as the Apache Drive-In. “We thought about closing it (the drive-in) last year, and decided to run it for one more season,” says Hollis.

“But it is getting harder and harder to get the 35mm film and it would cost a couple hundred thousand to convert to digital.”

In order to understand the economics of film, just consider what LA Weekly writer Gendy Alimurung wrote last April in her article, “Movie Studios Are forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film.”

“There is a war raging in Hollywood; a war between formats. In one corner…are defenders of 35mm film. Elegant in its economy, for more than 100 years film has been the dominant medium with which movies are shot, edited and viewed,” she wrote.

The last single screen drive in movie theater will close this September

The last single screen drive in movie theater will close this September

“In the other corner are backers of digital technology – a cheaper, faster, democratizing medium, a boon to both creator and distributor.”

Alimurung points out that it costs about $1500 to print one copy of a movie on 35mm film. When multiplied by 4,000 copies – one for each movie on each screen in each multiplex around the country – it is easy to see that the numbers start to get ugly.

By comparison, she points out, putting out a digital copy costs a mere $150.

The Apache Drive-In has the unique distinction of being one of the last four drive-ins operating in the state, and the only single-screen among the four. Operating on 35 mm film, it has been facing its last days for years as more and more of the movie industry converts to digital.

Hollis Cinemas in downtown Globe was built on the ground which used to house the Pioneer Hotel and the original Globe Theater before the Pioneer Fire in 2005 destroyed both structures (it was believed to have started on the third floor of the hotel).

Apace Drive-In was featured on the front cover of Arizona Highways just last year for their focus on Retro Az.

Apace Drive-In was featured on the front cover of Arizona Highways last year in the Retro Arizona issue.

The theater built in the 1930s had been a classic ‘old-style’ cinema with one screen, running 35 mm films. Although a tragic loss in many ways, the fire presented one silver lining: it was the opportunity to rebuild out of the ashes a new era of movie-going.

Hollis rebuilt on the original site and was able to expand the footprint to include four screens – and a new digital format. Construction on the new theater began in 2008, and the fourplex opened on Thanksgiving Day 2009.

This season, as the Cineplex celebrates it’s fourth year in business, the Apache Drive-In is set to close its doors after nearly 60 years in operation. Even taking into account the loyal following of those who have considered the Drive-In their favorite form of entertainment throughout the summer, there is not enough business to justify the huge outlay of cash it would take to upgrade to the new digital.


It is time to say goodbye.

This fall the drive-in will host their regular weekend in early September. As usual it will be a double header – for $10 a carload. The concession stand will be offering up their famous red chili enchiladas, hot dogs and popcorn as locals find their favorite spot to settle into for the last time to watch the silver screen under the stars at their favorite hometown drive-in.

And then, like all good acts, there will be an encore on September 28.

Globe Miami Times has teamed up with the Apache Drive-In to host its last picture show featuring perhaps the most iconic films of all drive-in movies – “American Graffitti”!

Starring Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Suzanne Somers and WOLFMAN JACK, this 1973 film opened to critical acclaim and was nominated for best picture.

The last single-screen drive-in movie theater left in the state will close this September

The last single-screen drive-in movie theater left in the state will close this September

And it is coming to Globe for the last curtain call of the Apache Drive-In!

So plan to join us under the stars for the ‘last picture show’ on September 28.

Early bird tickets will go on sale July 15 through Eventbrite at lastpictureshow.eventbrite.com. Details of the event will be available at Hollis Cinemas and here at globemiamitimes.com, but tickets will only be available through our ticket site at Eventbrite. Tickets come with a commemorative double-plated copper key fob, and the event includes a Wolfman Jack contest, a fashion and fenders style contest and several food and beverage options.

 Only 200 tickets will be available for this event, and it will be the last picture show and the end of an era for the Apache Drive-In. Don’t miss it!

    See http://lastpictureshow.eventbrite.com

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GMT features the culture, people and events which make up the Copper Corridor. Our staff and friends thought you might enjoy this post.

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