Motor-Vu Drive-In

815 Mullowney Lane,
Billings, MT 59101

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Motor-Vu Drive-In

Montana’s first drive-in opened on May 14, 1948. The Motor-Vu Drive-In’s then rural location was about two and a half miles from city center and was described being “west of Billings on Laurel Road.” The Billings Herald said John Moran owner of the Royal Theatre in Laurel was the builder and operator. Local reports said it had room for 645 cars.

A capacity crowd was treated to Dennis Morgan and Jane Wyman in “Cheyenne” This second run Warner Bros. programmer was presented on a 56x65 feet screen that could accommodate a 35x50 feet picture. Previous to that time the nearest drive-in was 400 hundreds miles away in Idaho Falls, Idaho or in the other direction Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By 1954, the length of the screen had increased to 108 feet and for their season opener of the “The Robe” on May 24 they presented what was billed as the first drive-in in the Northwest to show CinemaScope with stereophonic sound. It was said to be the second drive-in in the nation to equip each car for dual speakers.

Beginning in the late-1960’s through the middle-1980’s the Motor Vu and the local Sage Drive-In, which came later, were managed by Carisch theaters.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

RadioGame on August 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm

I was born and raised in Billings, Montana and frequented all three of the drive-ins. The Motor-Vu, Sage Theater & City-Vu. The City-Vu Drive-In was located north of Billings on the east side of Main St. in the Billings Heights, past the Lake Elmo Road junction. The Motor-Vu Drive-In was located on the old Laurel Highway west of town next to the West Parkway Truck Stop Cafe. The Sage Theater Drive-In was located on S. 24th St. W. across from Canyon Dr. All three theaters are tore down and gone, but not forgotten!

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