3109 Highway 25 South,
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Auto Drive-In (Official)
Functions: Movies (First Run)
Previous Names: Auto Theatre
The first drive-in to open in Greenwood, SC was the Auto Theatre. The drive-in was opened in 1945. It was listed as open on April 21, 1946, but no movies were listed along with no opening date. It was open on April 23, 1948 featuring the 1948 adventure “Tarzan and the Leopard Women” with Johnny Weissmuller, Brenda Joyce and Johnny Sheffield. It was opened by A.T. Livingston and Olin Turner with a capacity for 250 cars. It also featured a playground for the children and bleachers for people who did not want to sit in their car. Pete Zouras leased the drive-in from the Turner family in 1954. Pete said “he wanted to expand his theatre horizons”. Pete bought the theatre equipment from Livingstone’s widow when here husband died a few years later. Pete made the comment in 1993 that “When I got into it in 1954, it was kind of slow going. It was kind of a struggle to build up business and took us three years to expand the business”. Pete said “really our best years were the 1960’s and 1970’s. Those were the best years we had” He also commented in 1993 the most successful movie by far was “Walking Tall” which would still be playing yet today if he hadn’t pulled it after five weeks".
In the late-1950’s and early-1960’s, Pete, along with Mario Ackerman, who was operating the Hi-Way 25 Drive-In at that time, were fighting to change the interpretation of the South Carolina blue laws about screening movies on a Sunday. During that time period a lot of drive-in operators and owners got arrested for screening movies on a Sunday. per the blue law. Their logic was that a law passed in 1712 does not apply to something that was not invented until the 20th century. So after operating the Auto Theatre for 32 years and since his lease on the drive-in was up in October 1986, Pete decided it was time for him to retire at the end of the drive-in season. He commented “I was it, janitor, owner, manager, you name it, and I did it all. I was ready to retire”. He sold the theatre equipment back to Virginia Turner. The Auto Theatre was reopened briefly on July 1, 1999 by Martin and Marsha Murray. Apparently they must have had problems with running it because it was only open for about five weeks and it was closed again.
The Auto Drive-In reopened on April 30, 2009 by new owners, Tommy and Carolyn McCutcheon who purchased the drive-in from the Turner family. It was reopened with many improvements which included increasing the car capacity to 500 cars and adding a second screen tower in 2011. The second screen tower was erected in time for the first screening of “Pirates of the Caribbean:On Stanger Tides”. Also there were plans for installing a third screen tower, which was added in 2017.. The drive-in boasts the largest screens on the east coast. Tommy and Carolyn McCutcheon have made the drive-in shine with all the accomplishments they have made. The drive-in has digital projection and sound, menus for early-birds, so you can have a dinner and a movie. They also show the latest attractions. The Auto Drive-In is open all year round.
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