Sierra Vista Drive-In

101 Smith Road,
Socorro, NM 87801

200 cars

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Gibraltar Enterprises Inc.

Previous Names: Sierra Drive-In

Nearby Theaters

2017 aerial

The Sierra Drive-In was opened in 1949. Not long after opening a fire destroyed the projection booth. It was rebuilt and reopened in July 1950. In May 1952 it was taken over by Gibraltar Enterprises Inc. They were still the operators in 1957. It was later renamed Sierra Vista Drive-In. Screen and building still standing, but in bad condition.

Contributed by Silicon Sam

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

MichaelKilgore on June 9, 2019 at 2:00 pm

I wonder whether this drive-in opened as the Sunset, which is listed in the 1950 & 1951 Film Daily Year Books as the only one in Socorro.

Or maybe it was the Star-Lite, based on this note in the July 22, 1950 issue of BoxOffice:

SOCORRO, N. M. – Fire believed to have been caused by static electricity caused damage estimated at $4,000 to the projection booth and equipment at the Star-Lite Drive-In near here recently. A show was in progress when the blaze started, and about 30 cars parked on various ramps were hurriedly driven out of the open-air theater. Paul Padilla, projectionist, suffered burns on his head and body when he attempted to put out the fire. He was taken to a hospital in Albuquerque for treatment. The drive-in is owned and operated by Edsell Casavos.

MichaelKilgore on June 18, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Hmm. Someone different owned the drive-in in 1949. Or was it a second Socorro drive-in? From the Oct. 8, 1949 issue of BoxOffice:

SOCORRO, N. M. – Owner Jack Wills says that weather conditions and construction difficulty have made it impossible to reopen the local drive-in this season. Three attempts have been made previously to complete remodeling of the theatre.

MichaelKilgore on September 18, 2019 at 9:02 pm

Boxoffice, March 26, 1949: “SOCORRO, N. M. – Edsel Cavasos recently opened his Sunset Drive-In here. The Sunset is equipped with 100 in-car speakers and plans are to add more as they are needed, Cavasos said.”

MichaelKilgore on October 1, 2019 at 9:31 am

This little note in the May 3, 1952 Boxoffice is phrased as if the Sierra first opened that year: “Gibraltar Theatres has opened its new 200-car Sierra Drive-In, Socorro. N. M.”

Kris4077 on October 2, 2019 at 10:34 am

I think contributors to this website should start a fund and we should all contribute money to it and when we have enough we should purchase whole theaters or pieces like screens, Marqees, projection equipment, etc. So we can preserve a little theater history.

Orlando on October 3, 2019 at 8:52 am

In the movie “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (1974-5), when Alice and her son leave Socorro by station wagon they drive by the Sierra Vista Drive In. You can see the screen tower in the distance as the car is driving by it. Since it was filmed in Socorro, it must be the Sierra Vista. When I re-see all the old films on DVD, a theatre usually pops up here and there. Even in new movies, real movie palaces always pop up, never multiplexes (OK maybe some do). In “Hail Caesar!” a few years back the lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre appears for a sneak preview!

MichaelKilgore on December 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Boxoffice, Aug. 12, 1950: “SOCORRO, N. M. – Edsell Casavos, owner of the Star-Lite Drive-In, reopened the outdoor recently after rebuilding the fire-destroyed projection booth. Flames caused almost a total loss for the owner, since applied-for insurance had not become effective. However, he rebuilt the theatre and replaced in-car speakers, many of which had been carried off by patrons in their hurry to leave the burning drive-in. He also installed new projectors and a new popcorn vending machine.”

MichaelKilgore on December 26, 2019 at 1:54 pm

This Jan. 12, 1952 Boxoffice note, a few months before the previously posted May 3 note, gives the impression that the Sierra was not related to the Star-Lite. “George Frantz, theater engineer and appraiser, has gone to New Mexico … and also will look after the building of a 250-car airer, with room for expansion, at Socorro.”

Another Boxoffice note on May 3, 1952, agreed that this was a new drive-in: “Gibralter Theatres has opened its new 200-car Sierra Drive-In, Socorro, N. M.”

MichaelKilgore on January 16, 2020 at 8:04 am

Boxoffice, March 23, 1957: “Gibralter Enterprises has sold the Sierra Drive-In, Socorro, N. M., to Lester Dollison, who now has six theatres in New Mexico”

MichaelKilgore on September 22, 2021 at 9:25 am

Deming (NM) Headlight, April 20, 1978: “Les Dollison, who owns the movie theaters here, also owns the theater in Socorro. He recenly sponsored a "Name the Drive-In” contest, according to the “Defensor Chieftain” there. Clair Mirabel, 18, won with “Sierra Vista.” She got a $100 check and a year’s pass to the drive-in."

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