Sundowner Drive-In

11777 US-180,
Arenas Valley, NM 88022

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Copper Drive-In

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Sundowner Drive-In

Located in Arenas Valley to the east of Silver City, NM. The Copper Drive-In was opened by 1952 when it was operated by Herbert & Ray Johnson. By 1953 it was operated by George Dowdle. Listed in the Film Daily Yearbook’s of 1956 to 1964. In April 1966 it was renamed Sundowner Drive-In. It closed around 1980.

Contributed by A. L. Vazquez-Hernandez

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Kenmore on July 5, 2018 at 1:49 pm

Found It!

The drive-in was well to the east of the town at 11777 US-180, Arenas Valley, NM.

Today, the New Mexico Pole Line Inc. occupies the eastern half of the property while the other half is empty. There is no trace of the drive-in remaining apart from the foundation of the projection booth/concession stand.

dansdriveintheater on October 22, 2018 at 7:01 pm

so it the marquee to it appears!

kennerado on June 6, 2021 at 8:02 pm

In April 1966 the name was changed to the “Sundowner” and it was owned by Dollison Theaters. It kept that name until it presumably closed around 1979-80.

MichaelKilgore on April 9, 2022 at 9:52 am

Boxoffice, July 21, 1951: “Ray and Herbert Johnson have opened their new 400-car, $60,000 drive-in at Silver City, N. M.”

Boxoffice, Sept. 8, 1951: “SILVER CITY, N. M. – Ray Johnson and Herbert Johnson have opened the first drive-in theatre in Grant county. It is located on the Silver City-Central highway, about four miles east of here.”

Boxoffice, Jan. 5, 1952: “Herbert and Ray Johnson have opened their new 450-car Copper Drive-In at Silver City, N. Mex., and hope to make it a year-round operation.”

Theatre Catalog, 1952: “Copper D. I. Exec: Herbert and Ray Johnson. (400)”

Boxoffice, April 4, 1953: “George Dowdle has bought the Copper Drive-In, Silver City, N.M., from Herbert Johnson.”

Boxoffice, July 6, 1957: “The screen tower at the Copper Drive-In, Silver City, N. M., was blown down. The ozoner will be closed about a month while the tower and screen are being replaced”

Boxoffice, Aug. 24, 1957: “SILVER CITY, N.M. – The Copper Drive-In here has been reopened after considerable renovation and reconstruction. Jack Dunn, manager, said a number of smaller improvements also had been made. The theatre is owned by Dollison Theatres of Santa Rosa, N.M., and Sherman, Tex., headed by L. R. “Les” Dollison.”

Silver City Daily Press, April 11, 1966: “The former Copper Drive-In will henceforth be known as the Sundowner, according to Darrell Spurgur, manager of the outdoor theater on U. S. Highway 180 in Arenas Valley … Les Dollison, president of Dollison Theaters, expressed pleasure with the interest shown in the contest, evidenced by over 1,600 entries, and the capacity audience on hand for the opening Sunday (10) night. Dollison plans to spend several weeks in Grant County arranging for erection of a new display sign using the new name, plus other improvements to place the Sundowner in top operating condition, he said.”

Boxoffice, Nov, 24, 1975: “James Moss, doing business as Moss Theatres, has taken over the operation of the Gila and Sundowner drive-ins, Silver City, N.M., from Les Dollison of Dollison Theatres, headquartered in El Paso, Tex.”

Motion Picture Almanac, 1977: “Silver City: Sundowner, J. Moss, 400”

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