Swap Shop Drive-In

3291 W. Sunrise Boulevard,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

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Related Websites

Florida Swap Shop and Circus of Fort Lauderdale (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Bailey Theaters

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Previous Names: Sunrise Drive-In, Thunderbird Drive-In

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 954.791.7927

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News About This Theater

Swap Shop Drive-In

Originally opened by Bailey Theatres in the late-1950’s or early-1960’s as the Sunrise Drive-In, catering for an African-American audience. The Thunderbird Drive-In opened on November 27, 1963 with Jack Lemmon in “Irma la Deuce” & Frank Sinatra in “The Manchurian Candidate”. On July 13, 1973 it expanded to three screens. This is not your average drive-in theater. This drive-in, located on 88 acres of property now has 14 movie screens, a flea market, a circus, amusement rides, and a video arcade. It is open 365 days a year.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 34 comments)

rivest266 on March 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm

They must had been showing a dirty movie.

Found on Newspapers.com

davidcoppock on March 29, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Maybe it was very dusty? Maybe a printing error?

Jimmsm on May 7, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Sketchy neighborhood after dark, some screen are tiny, another is just a whitewashed wall of the indoor portion of the swap shop. I used to go often when I lived down in Florida. Only screens 1 and 2 are legitimately movie worthy so keep an eye on the Marque. Each day and especially on weekends it is the best Flea Market I have ever been to. The open air fruit and vegetable bazaar is just like a tour of the globe, people and produce from all over the world. Big thumbs up.

davidcoppock on October 3, 2018 at 7:33 am

Opened with “Irma La Douce” and “The Manchurian Candidate”.

davidcoppock on October 4, 2018 at 11:36 pm

Rivest266, maybe they were screening the “The Invisible man”?

davidcoppock on October 22, 2018 at 7:23 am

There was a fire on 24/1/2007, next door in auto parts yard. Two of the screens were evacuted after the firefighters noticed a 250 pound propane tank nearby.

MichaelKilgore on June 9, 2020 at 12:52 pm

Looks like this drive-in may have started its life even earlier as the Sunrise. I ran across this note in Motion Picture Exhibitor, Dec. 18, 1963: “A. W. Cook and Preston Henn have taken over the Sunrise Drive-In, Fort Lauderdale, and have renamed it the Thunderbird.”

There’s a Sunrise listed for Fort Lauderdale in the 1957-76(!) editions of Motion Picture Almanac. It had a capacity of 500 and was owned by Bailey Theatre. When the MPA finally rebooted its drive-in list in 1977, the Sunrise was gone, replaced by the Thunderbird Twin, owned by P.B. Henn.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 9, 2020 at 1:36 pm

I am pretty sure also that this was the Sunrise, but I haven’t found solid proof.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 10, 2020 at 7:23 am

Bailey Theatres, which operated the Sunrise Drive-In also owned several other locations in the south. The other locations appear to all be “negro theatres”, as they were then known. I suspect that may be the reason for the lack of mainstream advertising for the Sunrise. The change to Thunderbird may have been a change in policy or owner.

MichaelKilgore on June 10, 2020 at 8:17 am

Perhaps “A. W. Cook” passed away soon after he helped purchase the Sunrise and rename it the Thunderbird. From the Theatres For Sale column in the classifieds in the April 17, 1964 issue of Boxoffice: “Large Florida Drive-Ins: Ft. Lauderdale, 700 cars; … Death of partner forces sale. … Call Henn Thunderbird Drive-In, (phone number), Ft. Lauderdale, nights.”

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