10404 N. Newport Highway,
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Walt Hefner opened the 500-car Starlite Drive-In, Spokane’s seventh open-air theater, on November 17, 1972 with Peter Cushing in “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, Yul Brynner in “The Magnificent Seven” & Margaret Rutherford in “The Mouse on the Moon”. The Spokesman-Review said that Hefner originally planned to open in June. Since he was his own contractor, he saved $103,000 in construction costs by opening it in November.
The Starlite Drive-In regularly showed triple and even quadruple feature exploitation movies, the type which would have made Quentin Tarantino proud. In 1981 Hefner was quoted in the news as saying: “Some of the movies we show are terrible, but our audience knows that and appreciates that". It was said that he “considers good bad movies one of the main attractions of his business".
In October of 1984 the Starlite Drive-In closed the season and forever with a five-feature blowout.
Mr. Hefner had realized a good return on his investment in bad movies because he had sold the land to Tom Moyer of Luxury Theatres for a million dollars. In 1985 the Newport Cinemas opened on the site of the former drive-in.
In 1991 the Spokesman-Review said Hefner put the proceeds of the sale to use by producing a $750,000 low-budget film of his own, which was called “The Ghosting". The movie was produced and filmed in Spokane with local actors. Where did Walt choose to premiere his movie? It was at the Newport Cinemas, the former location of his Starlite Drive-In.
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