Drive-In Documentary To Premiere This Weekend

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A documentary featuring the resurgence of the drive-in theatre and highlighting Mountain View’s own Stone Drive-In will premiere locally this Friday and Saturday.

Students in the creative media production (CMP) program at Arkansas State University will debut their documentary “Revenge of the Drive-In Movie Theater” during November.

The documentary follows three drive-in movie theaters in Arkansas and one in Tennessee during the fall of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and chronicles the history, resurgence, and future of each theater.

“The Creative Media Production Program is excited to debut this documentary at the very venues that worked with us to create it,” said Galen Perkins, instructor of creative media production. “Drive-In theaters have always fascinated me, and to track their revival during this time of great change was an exciting opportunity.”

Perkins said undergraduate students producing the documentary found the few remaining drive-in theaters in Arkansas thriving.

“It seems as though the owners associated with these remaining theaters have a long history with them. They survived that decline of the seventies and have turned a focus to the local community. It just seems they thrive better in a smaller community like Marshall or Mountain View. In some ways, the theaters reflect those small communities.

“And in many ways they have resurged through an entire global reset,” Perkins said.

Perkins taught the special topics class consisting of several current and former CMP students who created the documentary during the fall 2020 term.

“The students bought in wholeheartedly, took ownership of the project, and ended up telling a fantastic story,” he added. “We’re extremely thankful to the theaters for working with us to tell their story, and for giving our students a new platform to showcase their work.”

Rachel Rushing, a third-generation owner of the family-owned facility in Mountain View, said Stone Drive-In drew many out-of-state visitors who were looking for a different kind of entertainment during the COVID pandemic.

“It really can be kind of a family event,” she said. “We’ve seen families arrive a couple of hours early and spread out blankets and order in Tommy’s Pizza and play Frisbee. Sometimes they’ll make a whole afternoon of it.”

Rachel, who now operates the facility with two siblings, said her grandfather built the drive-in during 1964 and it began operation a year later. He traded a single-engine plane to purchase the theater’s first projector.

Students who worked on the documentary were: Connor Boon of Jonesboro, director; RaLynnda March of Cave City, executive producer; Autumn Scott of Flint, Mich., co-executive producer; Zachary Ruple of Jonesboro, editor; Alex Roberts of Japan, director of photography; Taylor Settlemoir of Rome, Ga., camera operator; and Ethan DuVall of Morrilton, as camera operator.

Perkins said Stone Drive-In is one of the facilities that has carved a unique niche for itself.

“It really stands apart from the noise of day-to-day life, marketing through word of mouth and certain social media strategies.”

Documentary viewing premiers at Stone Drive-In at 6:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday as part of a double feature with “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Admission is free.

The following week, it will run at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Malco Summer Drive-In in Memphis. The final showing of the documentary will be at the Kenda Drive-In in Marshall at 7 p.m. Nov. 18. General admission charges will apply at these locations.

The A-State Creative Media Production program offers several degree opportunities (both face-to-face and online) in corporate media, graphic communication, sports media, and media ministry. Additionally, students can earn certificates in corporate media, graphic communication, sports production, and media ministry.

For further information on “Revenge of the Drive-In Movie Theater,” contact RaLynnda March, ASU-TV station manager, (870) 972-3070 or Ralynnda.March@smail.AState.edu.

Follow ASU-TV on Facebook at facebook.com/asutvjonesboro for updates on the showings.

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