Saco Drive-In

969 Portland Road,
Saco, ME 04074

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Saco Drive-In (Official)

Additional Info

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Previous Names: Saco Open Air Auto Theatre, Saco Auto Drive-In

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 207.284.1016

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News About This Theater

Saco Drive-In

The Auto Drive-In was opened on 15th July 1939 with Richard Tauber in “Forbidden Music”. It was renamed Saco Drive-In from June 22, 1940 and is one of the oldest drive-ins in the U.S. still operating. This single screen drive-in has a capacity for 300 cars.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 1, 2014 at 12:06 am

Just came from a few days at Ogunquit and made a special trip to this drive-in, and I am very pleased to report that the digital projection is effin' awesome!

This has to be the clearest and brightest drive-in presentation that I have seen in decades. It had the quality of a high-end hardtop. The screen is white and in great shape, with no noticeable flaws, and the sound was crisp and static-free.

X-Men looked sensational, even in the dark scenes, and the glossy Other Woman was as shiny as a new penny. (The movie itself was dreadful, but it sure looked swell on the big screen!)

This is how it should be done. Showmanship and professionalism it its best. Kudos to all involved.

MichaelKilgore on September 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Here’s what’s on my shelf:

*Theatre Catalogs

1948-50: Eugene Boragine, 300.

1952-56: A. C. O'Neill and Herbert Higgins, 300


1953-54: E. Borazin; Higgins, 75-150.

1955-59: Higgins Circuit, 75-150.

1963: Madison Theas. Co., 75-150.

1969-76: 75-150.

1982: SBC Mgt. Corp., 600.

1984-88: SBC Mgt. Corp.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 20, 2017 at 5:18 pm

NeonMichael, I even put your post into Google translate, but I still can’t make heads or tails out of it. Care to elaborate…?

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on September 20, 2017 at 6:16 pm

What he is doing is listing the owners/operators of the drive-ins that are listed in the Theatre Catalogs and the IMPA (International Motion Picture Almanac) both are reference books for theatre researchers. But there information can be quite dubious at times also.

MichaelKilgore on September 20, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Mike is right that I’ve been going through so many of these that I started thinking that everyone knew all the abbreviations and notes of these books. My apologies, and thanks to DI54 for pitching in. The cryptic abbreviations (other than IMPA) are what appeared in the books, which provided different levels of detail in different yearly editions.

The numbers at the end are vehicle capacity. Some of them could get very specific, since a drive-in owner knew exactly how many in-car speakers he had to maintain. But the first “75-150” in the 1953-54 edition of the Motion Picture Almanac (not International yet) looked like a hand-altered “75-” added to a previously laid-out 150. Out of hundreds of drive-ins, there were probably fewer than a dozen hyphenated ranges listed. I’d say that it was surprising that this uncertain number hung on for two decades, but inertia was a powerful force for those Almanac folks. As DI54 implies, these references are informative but not definitive.

nritota on September 20, 2017 at 7:48 pm

You have to keep in mind that theater companies often overstated capacity as well. It allowed them to be offered “bigger” films since the distributor wanted to be exposed to the maximum audience.

On the flip side, a lot of independents understated their receipts in order to pay less of the percentage owed to distributors.

It was a delicate dance that played out all over the country in hard tops and drive ins.

MichaelKilgore on September 20, 2017 at 7:48 pm

One more note – anyone interested in the history of the Saco should check out Camille M. Smalley’s 2014 book, The Saco Drive-In: Cinema Under the Maine Sky. It’s available in ebook and dead-tree versions at the usual places.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 12, 2018 at 10:05 pm

I’m heading up to the drive-in next week, does anyone know if the digital bulb is still as bright and clear as it should be? If they haven’t changed it since 2014 (as has happened at many locations, both hardtop and drive-ins) I will be disappointed…

davidcoppock on October 5, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Opened as Auto Drive-in on 15/7/1939 with “Forbidden music”. Name changed to Saco Drive-in(1950’s?). Won a digital projector in 2013.

MichaelKilgore on March 21, 2019 at 1:43 pm

Looking through some 1940 issues of The Exhibitor, it generally referred to the theater as the Saco Drive-In.

June 5: “Drive-In Saco is operating full blast although a steady seige of rainy weather hampered.”

July 3: “Saco Drive-In here opened June 22.”

Aug. 14: “Saco Drive-In, after changing hands, has closed.”

Sept. 18: “Saco Open Air is closed.”

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