Open for business: Drive-In shows first movies

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006

There&8217;s a new place to see a first-run movie in Shelby County that is actually a blast from the past.

A hint: this theater is located in the area of the old Evans Flea Market on U.S. Highway 280 in Harpersville.

A second hint: you drive in, pay by the carload, turn your radio to a set frequency and watch the latest movie in the great out-of-doors.

Brian Skinner opened the new Harpersville Drive In with a sneak preview last Thursday night for invited guests and held an official opening last Friday night.

He said the drive-in features two 60-foot-by-26-foot movie screens made of corrugated tin painted with super flat white paint. Facing the two screens, which allow the showing of two movies at once, is space for 150 vehicles on each side for a total of 300 vehicles.

Two projectors in the building, which serves as a concession stand and restrooms, project 35mm movie films with the aid of 4,000-watt bulbs valued at $1,000 each.

Those attending the drive-in tune their radio dials to either 105.1 or 99.3 to see the movie of their choice.

The theater opened with &8220;Over the Hedge&8221; and &8220;Mission Impossible Three.&8221;

Skinner owns The Drive-In in Argo and is a partner if the Starlite Drive-In in Anniston.

He said he has between $300,000 and $400,000 invested in the Harpersville drive-in, including the land.

Skinner said admission is $10 per carload and everything is $1, $2 or $3 in the concession stand. Candy and soft drinks are $1 and popcorn is $2 or $3.

In the summer, he said, the theater will be opened seven days per week. Skinner said the movie starts as soon as the sun goes down.

He said the screen closest to Birmingham shows the longest movies and the screen closest to the exit shows the shortest movies.

Jahmilia Barkley, age 6, of Childersburg who attended the sneak preview with Harpersville Mayor Theoangelo Perkins said of the drive-in, &8220;I like it.&8221;

Perkins expressed his excitement as well.

&8220;I think it can be a positive thing for (the entire) area, not just Harpersville. It is something that is family oriented, and we certainly look forward to it being successful,&8221; he said.

Skinner said the theater would show mostly PG and PG-13 movies and the occasional horror or war movie.

Skinner said he felt that Harpersville has the same demographics as Argo and the Harpersville Drive In would draw customers from Childersburg, Sylacauga, Pell City, Clanton and Birmingham.

He sees a bright future ahead, estimating the theater would perform 30 to 40 percent better than Argo