Springfield Drive-In

1030 S. Dirksen Parkway,
Springfield, IL 62702

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Frisina Amusement Company

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Springfield Drive-In

The Springfield Drive-In was opened on September 19, 1947. Troubled by booking issues, the Springfield Drive-In Theater Corporation filed a $1 million antitrust action against each of the major Hollywood studios.

By 1980, the Springfield Drive-In was showing XXX films in the winter months drawing negative attention in the community which may or may not be the reason that theatre was vandalized. The theatre closed in 1983. It continued as a flea market location until being torn down in 1991.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

DavidZornig on August 25, 2017 at 9:12 am

Newspaper image added. Lutheran Sunrise Rites held at the Springfield Drive-In April 3, 1966. Image & copy credit Springfield Rewind Facebook page.

Kenmore on August 25, 2017 at 11:06 am

The projection booth/snack bar is still standing, but the roof has caved in.

MichaelKilgore on June 18, 2019 at 12:50 pm

To elaborate on dallasmovietheaters' comments, a Dec. 13, 1980 article in The Pantagraph of Bloomington IL quoted Springfield manager Richard Goyne as saying that his drive-in caters to family movies while school is out but shifts to X-rated films beginning in the fall. “We do tremendous business or we wouldn’t be open,” he said.

The Motion Picture Almanac drive-in list got confused with something in the mid 1960s, dropped the Springfield in 1980, then picked it up again in 1983, presumably after Frisina sold it. Would that indicate a mid-80s revival? MPA mentions:

  • 1950-59: Drive-In, capacity 800, owner Springfield Drive-In Corp.
  • 1960-64: Drive-In, 800, Central States Theatres
  • 1965-66: Drive-In, 800, Central States Theatres AND Springfield Drive-In, 1,100, Frisina
  • 1967-76: Drive-In, 800, AND Springfield Drive-In, 1,100 (no owner info)
  • 1977-79: Springfield Drive-In, 800, Frisina
  • 1980-82: off the list
  • 1983-84: Springfield Drive-In, 1 screen, Mid Am. Thea.
  • 1985-88: Springfield Drive-In, 1 screen, Goyne
MichaelKilgore on June 18, 2019 at 12:59 pm

From the Sept. 4, 1948 issue of Motion Picture Herald, “Ralph Lawler, operator of the Peoria Drive-In theatre, and Joseph N. Sikes, who operates the Springfield Drive-In in Illinois, have formed a partnership placing both theatres under their joint management. Mr. Lawler was formerly district manager for Great States in Illinois, and Mr. Sikes is a Waukegan attorney.”

MichaelKilgore on June 19, 2019 at 8:19 am

The Drive-In in Springfield held its Grand Opening on Sept. 19, 1947. Its first movie was Smoky, starring Fred MacMurray and Anne Baxter.

On Sept. 24, 1952, the Daily Illinois State Journal reported that the drive-in’s founder, Joseph Sikes, had sold it to the Frisina Amusement Co. of Springfield. By that point, the drive-in had expanded its capacity to “approximately 1200 cars.” Frisina said it planned a new, larger refreshment stand and a larger playground area.

MichaelKilgore on June 19, 2019 at 9:36 am

William Hopkins, secretary of Frisina Enterprises, which owned the Springfield, pleaded guilty on behalf of the corporation on April 27, 1981 to a misdemeanor charge of distributing harmful material. That’s according to the next day’s story in the State Journal-Register. It all started on March 7 when the drive-in was raided by the state’s attorney’s office while it was showing the XXX-rated film Seduction. The drive-in was fined $300 and “agreed to refrain from showing movies as explicit as the movie they showed,” said assistant state’s attorney James Grohne.

Indeed, a sampling of the movie ads in subsequent months shows a mixture of general-release films and hard-R drive-in movies. The last movie ad for the Springfield in the Journal-Register was Oct. 2, 1983 for Alone in the Dark and Zombie, both rated R.

The “Old Springfield Drive-In” advertised its Giant Flea Market through October 1986.

According to an Aug. 3, 1991 article in the Journal-Register, the Springfield’s screen was torn down in Spring 1991 after a wind storm damaged the wood-frame structure. At the time, it was owned by Giuffre Buick, which had used the screen for ads.

MichaelKilgore on June 20, 2019 at 9:42 am

One last transaction. The Springfield Journal-Register reported on Oct. 14, 1981 that the Springfield Drive-In had been sold along with 25 other Frisina theaters to Mid America Theaters of Sharon Springs KS.

Mid America’s co-owner Craig Stout said the drive-in would gradually move to family-oriented movies. “For the remainder of this season, we definitely will have no X-movies,” Stout said, “but we might have some ‘hard R’ films.”

DavidZornig on April 3, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Photo and description added credit The State Journal-Register. “Springfield, Illinois – Easter on April 13, 1954 – The drive-in Sunrise Service at the Springfield Drive-In Theater attracted more than 3,800 people. They arrived in 975 cars, according to the organizers, a number that probably compared favorably to the turnout for movies on summer weekend evenings.”

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