Cranston Drive-In

1400 Oaklawn Avenue,
Cranston, RI 02920

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Showing 19 comments

davidcoppock on May 31, 2018 at 5:03 am

The site is now a shopping centre(Marshalls Plaza).

Bill on March 30, 2016 at 1:45 pm

When they closed for the winter, the marquee read;
“Had to close
Before we froze
See you when
The crocus grows

ejones880 on July 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm

What year did it close? I remember going their in 1979

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 30, 2010 at 5:55 am

Cranston Drive-In sues gas station for removal of annoying blinker sign,
item in Boxoffice magazine, August 5, 1950:
View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

The Cranston Drive-In was equipped with 3-D projection capability in 1953, with the first offering being “Man in the Dark” per an item in Boxoffice mahgazine, July 4, 1953.

RJT70mm on July 13, 2007 at 12:48 pm

I just rechecked the ad and screen size was given as 50'x122' and a projected pcture of 47'x118' at a 240' throw. Light readings were 6 fl. for 35mm and 8 fl. for 70mm.

RJT70mm on July 11, 2007 at 2:04 pm

I believe this drive in installed 70mm in the early sixties. National Theatre Supply ran an ad in the tradepapers for their Ventarc blown arc lamp with a picture of the booth. They also had Norelco DP70’s. The screen size was given as 114 ft.

Partymonster on May 19, 2006 at 11:15 am

I spent many a summre’s evening as a boy with my family at this long-ago delight. Every year when they closed, they would post on their sign; “Had to close before we froze. See you when the crocus grows."
Bill Gannon

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 8, 2005 at 4:05 am

3-D Movie at Drive-In Provides Police with 4-D Traffic Tieup
That was the headline of a Providence Journal newspaper article on July 13, 1953 reporting that the showing of a 3-D movie at this drive-in the night before combined with volumes of traffic returning from the R.I. beaches had caused a monumental traffic snarl in the area. The movie was Fort Ti which played with the 3-D short Spooks, featuring the 3 Stooges.

DOS76 on August 6, 2005 at 9:55 pm

i remember this place-nothing but great memories- i remember hearing over the loud speakers “concession stand closes in 10 minutes”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 3, 2005 at 6:02 am

Lostmemory, this drive-in was also called the Cranston Drive-In late in its career but Cranston Auto Theatre earlier on. I have a newspaper ad in front of me from August, 1978, when it was showing Corvette Summer & Coma. The ad says Cranston Drive-In, Rte. 5, Cranston. It was to close about 15 months later.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 30, 2005 at 7:27 pm

And on October 11 & 12 of 1950, they had shown Rossellini’s Open City. Those two programs, exactly one year apart, coincided with Columbus Day and were meant to be cultural presentations for the R.I. Italian-American community. Perhaps the drive-in should have been renamed “Neorealist Auto Theatre.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 22, 2005 at 2:47 pm

On October 12 & 13 of 1951 the Cranston Auto Theatre was showing an unexpected program for a drive-in, De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief . The Italian movie had had a number of successful little runs at an art house in the area, the Avon, and the Uptown in Providence. But a drive-in? And subtitled? I don’t believe the distributor was circulating dubbed prints then or later. The program was even advertised in the Italian-American weekly “The Italian Echo.” The accompanying film on the double bill was a B-western (!) called California Passage. Certainly unusual.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 17, 2005 at 3:05 pm

Here is an aerial photo of this drive-in. I’m not sure when it was taken, probably the 1950s before so much development took place in that area.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 17, 2005 at 12:54 pm

Actually this theatre was named “Cranston Auto Theatre” when it opened and “Cranston Drive-In” in successive years. It opened on July 29, 1948 amid great hoopla. The Providence Journal the next day reported that film and civic VIPs had attended the opening. Cranston and state police controlling traffic later estimated that 700 cars were admitted (the theatre capacity was then 700 cars) and that almost an equal number had been turned away. Myer Stanzler, president of the Columbia Amusement Company, owners of the theatre which cost $60,000, said that the capacity would be increased to 800. Thirty-one years later, on November 2, 1979, a Journal article reported that the drive-in had closed for good the night before and that ground-breaking had begun for a 91,000 square-foot shopping complex.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 5, 2005 at 11:58 am

The 1951-52 Motion Picture Almanac says the place could accomodate 800 cars.

hardbop on April 1, 2005 at 12:28 pm

I remember going here many, many, many times in the early 1970s. It was a victim of suburban sprawl. It is amazing how that whole area has developed. The drive-in also had a Merry-Go-Round right down in front of the screen.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 25, 2004 at 6:55 am

The Cranston Drive-In was located where there is now a collection of shops, including Marshall’s, I believe, between Oaklawn Avenue and Bald Hill Road. I think it was constructed in the late 1940s. It was not far from where Warwick Mall is, just over the city line. The main entrance was on the Oaklawn Avenue side. In the 1950s, when I was a young teen, I went there several times with my parents. I clearly remember seeing Disney’s documentary THE LIVING DESERT there and THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS with Bob Hope and James Cagney. It had a very large capacity, and the screen, especially after they widened it for CinemaScope, was immense.