Thunderbird Drive-In

3885 Jonesboro Road SE,
Atlanta, GA 30354

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Cobb Theatres, R.C. Cobb Inc.

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Thunderbird Drive-In

The Thunderbird Drive-In was a popular drive-in which opened July 27, 1962 with Audie Murphy in “6 Black Horses” & Peter Cushing in “Night Creatures”. Usually in the 1960’s one week a month it would show adult films such as Russ Meyer films. Although I never went there I have heard that it had a nice playground for children in front of the screen. You could also see the screen from I-285 as you drove by. It was taken over by Cobb Theatres in 1976 and closed in 1979.

The theater was replaced by a Sam’s Club which has morphed into a Home Depot.

This drive-in was about a mile above the 54 Drive-In.

Contributed by Jesse Brantley

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

StanMalone on May 26, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Link to the Drive In ladder ad in the Atlanta paper on August 5, 1964. The blogger has also written up some of his memories of working at these places. Worth a look if you are interested in the drive in culture from 1970 – 1990.

View link

jeterga on May 2, 2011 at 6:24 am

The Thunderbird Drive-In was one big drive-in theatre! It was easily seen from I-285 at the Jonesboro Rd exit! Feel free to share your memories and enjoy the old pics as well.

Mike Durrett
Mike Durrett on May 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Swell photos, Alonzo, but I’m not sure if the SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954) and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (1955) picture is from Atlanta. There were at least 10 Thunderbird Drive-ins across the USA. My memory is the Atlanta one opened circa 1962. I was in grade school, so I’m somewhat fuzzy on it.

I do recall in the early years, there were dusk-to-dawn shows each Friday and Saturday nights, usually four features, not necessarily themed together. One new one and three oldies.

Mike Durrett
Mike Durrett on May 7, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I was told by theatre personnel that the first 70mm to play at the Thunderbird was PATTON (1970), probably on the first drive-in availability. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the only 70mm.

My first experience with Norelco projectors was at the Thunderbird. I was called as fill-in projectionist during an emergency situation. I had the guy from the previous night thread the first reel for me before he left, so I could observe when I arrived the next evening. Norelco machines were not user-friendly or especially intuitive. I also ran them at the old Georgia CINERAMA, after the twinning, and that was a mess of problems. I dreaded being cooped up with those machines.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Some projectionists would simply drop reels,Stan.

jwmovies on December 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Home Depot AKA the Thunderbird Drive-in is located @ 3885 Jonesboro Road Southeast.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on December 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

It has its own Facebook page

rivest266 on April 10, 2018 at 2:13 pm

Taken over by Cobb theatres in 1976 and closed 1979.

JFB on February 25, 2019 at 6:12 pm

I never went to this drive-in. My brother went here with my cousin and saw that the manager who was a member of our church. What is funny is my church at that time did not approve of movies or movie theaters. Now my church has movie nights. Of course you will not see some of the stuff this place would play. I seem to remember this drive-in would play adult movies once a month.

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