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Division Director George Griffith Jnr.
                                                                               begged to differ. He headed a syndicate
                                                                               which built the first drive-in at
                                                                               Burwood, based along the lines of its
                                                                               North American cousins.
                                                                                  Roc Kirby, operator of the
                                                                               Melbourne suburban Kirby Theatres
                                                                               circuit founded by his father George,
                                                                               was one of many eyes watching
                                                                               developments at Skyline Burwood.
                                                                                  The accountants for Kirby Theatres
                                                                               were Bill Spencer and Ted Alexander.
                                                                               Bill Spencer, who owned land on
                                                                               Whitehorse Road Croydon, asked Roc
                                                                               what he knew about drive-in theatres.
                                                                               Roc replied that he knew all about
                                                                               them, and that they should build one on
                                                                               the land at Croydon. Whilst it was true
                                                                               that Roc knew something of drive-ins,
              Birth of the Drive-In                                            he acquired all the additional
                                                                               knowledge required very quickly.
                                                                                  Hugh Wallis, a refrigeration
                                  By David Kilderry                            mechanic and operator of a small
                                                                               Adelaide cinema circuit, experienced
            It is generally acknowledged that  Hollingshead by this time had   all the excitement of Skyline Burwood
          the drive-in theatre was born on the  returned to the auto parts business. He  on a trip to Melbourne and decided that
          night of June 6, 1933 in Camden, New  died in relative obscurity, comfortable  he could build one in Adelaide.
          Jersey USA, and that its inventor was  at least in his own mind about what he
                                                                                  Construction commenced at a site in
          Richard M. Hollingshead Jnr.      had achieved.
                                                                               West Beach and in a short time his
            Decades beforehand, many outdoor   The drive-ins built across the US in  drive-in was achieving the success of
          cinemas existed in both the USA and  the 1930s struggled due to the lack of a  Burwood.
          Australia. These venues were popular  suitable sound system. The sound was
                                                                                  In Western Australia the Highway
          in beach resort areas and remote  either blasted from a single large
                                                                               at Bentley and Skyline Floreat Park
          locations, a simple solution to the  speaker from atop the screen tower or
                                                                               led the charge in 1955, but they were
          problem of a scarcity of buildings large  from several speakers located across the
                                                                               pipped at the post by an outdoor
          enough to hold audiences clamouring  drive-in field; some were even located
                                                                               cinema at Rolleystone that
          for the cinematograph.            beneath the car and the sound vibrated
                                                                               accommodated 65 cars. Before that the
            Some of these outdoor theatres  up through the floorboards! Anyone  small seaside resort of Dunsborough
          reportedly included car           within a mile or so complained bitterly  boasted horse and carts lined up
          accommodation, so it would be naive to  of noise escaping from the field. It was  amongst the Ford model T's in front of
          suggest that the first patrons to ever  not until RCA developed the in-car  a large calico screen, way back in the
          view a film from a car were in New  speaker in the 1940s that the solution  1930s.
          Jersey on that June night.        was found.
                                                                                  Tasmania’s first drive-in, at Elwick
            Hollingshead does deserve the      At the end of World War 2 all the  in Hobart, was built in the middle of a
          credit however for developing the  elements were in place for a drive-in  racetrack! Projection and sound were
          concept of the drive-in as we know it.  explosion. By 1958 5,000 drive-in  installed by Westrex.
          He filed a patent for his invention, but  theatres had been built in North  Queensland boasted an excellent
          it was determined that there was  America.
                                                                               climate for the drive-in experience.
          nothing new in what he had developed  Sir Norman Rydge, the Managing
                                                                               Amongst the first to open was
          except for the formed gravel mound  Director of one of Australia’s two giant
                                                                               Capalaba, equipped by RCA. Westrex
          known as the ramp, the design of which  theatre circuits - Greater Union -
                                                                               and RCA were two of the companies
          enabled the viewers' vehicles to point  commented in 1949 that drive-ins
                                                                               providing the specialised drive-in
          upward towards the giant screen.   would not be successful in Australia.
                                                                               equipment required by drive-in theatres.
            The screen was placed high upon a  As far as he and Ernest Turnbull, the  Expansion into NSW was delayed
          screen tower in order that several  Managing Director of Twentieth   by the lack of suitable local planning
          hundred cars could view it, rather than  Century Fox and the head of Hoyts in  laws. When drive-in regulations were
          just those in the front row.      Australia, were concerned, there was no  finally passed, their strict and costly
            Decades of court battles dogged  need for the expense of a new theatre  requirements ensured that NSW would
          Hollingshead as he fought to enforce  circuit. Television was still years away  lag behind the growth in other states.
          the novel aspect of his idea, and receive  and the hundreds of theatres in the  Reports of clouds of dust stirred up
          royalties from new drive-in operators.  country controlled by the majors  by vehicles at Burwood and at other
          Ultimately, a court ruled that a pile of  produced big profits.      early drive-ins clearly influenced the
          dirt could not be the subject of a patent.   In Victoria Hoyts’ Southern

          8   2007 CINEMARECORD
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