Swap Shop Drive-In

3291 W. Sunrise Boulevard,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

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Showing 1 - 25 of 34 comments

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

davidcoppock on October 4, 2018 at 11:36 pm

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

davidcoppock on October 3, 2018 at 7:33 am

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

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 March 29, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Maybe it was very dusty? Maybe a printing error?

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 12:26 am

Is the Thunderbird Mini building still there and used for anything? I haven’t heard of a members only theatre before!

rivest266 on March 28, 2017 at 3:51 pm

An indoor theatre, called the Thunderbird Mini opened behind the refreshment center on September 4th, 1970 with “I am Curious (Yellow)”. On January 1st, 1971 it became a “members only” theatre closing in 1972. The outdoor theatre had shown adult movies until at least 1973. Three ads in the photo section.

rivest266 on March 26, 2017 at 2:44 pm

This opened on November 27th, 1963. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

  • July 13th, 1973 3 screens
  • 6 screens on September 21st, 1973
  • 8 screens on March 29th, 1974

Renamed Swap Shop in 1984

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 25, 2016 at 6:45 am

David, the daytime flea market became more popular than the Drive-in and it reminded everyone that they were the same location.

davidcoppock on May 24, 2016 at 11:05 pm

Does anyone know why the drive-in was called Swap Shop?

Mikeoaklandpark on May 19, 2016 at 1:21 pm

A lot of the screens are small and non have the capability to show scope unless they have gone digital and that has changed. Scope films used to be off the sides of the screen in the air. I hated it.

davidcoppock on May 19, 2016 at 1:14 am

You can see an aerial shot of the Swap Shop Drive-in property on Google Earth! I think you can see at least 9 of the drive-in screens in the Google Earth aerial shot!

KenLayton on May 18, 2016 at 9:43 am

I’d like to see an ariel picture of the theater property now. With 14 screens it would be mighty impressive!

davidcoppock on May 18, 2016 at 1:08 am

Is the Swap shop drive-in possibly have the world record for themost screens at a drive-in? Does anyone know why the drive-in was Swap Shop?

rivest266 on October 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I uploaded the 1969 aerial photo from the USGS in the photo section. It was much smaller with one screen.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

This place now claims to have 14 screens.


TLSLOEWS on February 28, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Good place to take your wife,swap her for another.Nice Ad Harvey a believe the Loews Ads are for regular theatres and 1 drive-in.

Harvey on August 12, 2008 at 12:31 am

Mentioned in this ad is what I believe are the mini-theaters Al is referring to.

View link

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 9, 2008 at 7:14 am

In 1970 the Thunderbird and Gold Coast experimented by adding indoor mini theatres to the properties which played mostly ‘adult’ movies.

kencmcintyre on February 22, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Not that odd. My hometown drive-in used to show softcore movies in the 70s. We kids were able to watch from outside the property. Very educational.