Page 11 - CinemaRecord #11R.pdf
P. 11

Hot and  cold  food  vendors also  roamed  the  ramps  supplying  everything  from  ice  cream  to  hot  pies. Two
             sessions a  night  kept  the  car-hops on  their toes directing teaffic.  Theme  nights were  popular with  regular
             "Ranch Nights" and "Midnight Horror Shows". Showmanship was still the order of the day and clever promo-
             tions helped draw crowds from their loungerooms as the television impact began.

             Drive-ins were the only growth area in cinema exhibition once television was established. By 1971 there were
             22 drive-ins in  Melbourne alone. This helped make up for some of the devestation that had been wrought on
             the suburban hardtops.

             Even with good patronage at their existing three sites, Hoyts were very cautious about expanding further. After
             the opening of Broadmeadows they did not expand their drive-in circuit for another ten years, until the aquisition
             of Coburg and Marlbyrnong, and the construction of Bulleen, Wantirna and Altona.

             Oakleigh continued to trade well and in 1968 alterations were made. New ramps were added at the rear to bring
             the capacity up to 791  cars. The verandah at the front of the snack bar was enclosed to enlarge this area, and
             in 1975 the screen was resurfaced with galvanised steel.

             Through the 1970's the families gradually drifted away and the young adults became the main audience and
             panel vans replaced the Volkswagens and FJ  Holdens on  the ramps. Films like "The Seven Year Itch" gave
             way to "Vigilante Force" and other 'R' certificate films and pinball machines were installed in 1977.

             By 1984 dwindling audiences forced Hoyts and Village to close many, and to combine their drive-ins to elimi-
             nate the competition between each other.

             The snack bar and bio-box was completely rebuilt, and the drive-in was twinned, the new twin projection room
             being constructed above the snack bar. The original screen remained  and  the new screen was built directly
             opposite, toward the front.

             Oakleigh continued to trade profitably until closure in  1980. Ultimately its demise was brought about by high
             land values, and  the higher profitability and  more efficiently run  multiplexes. The site is now occupied  by a
             retirement village and houses.

                    The author at Oakleigh in 1990, the week of the closure, screens are already removed
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