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CULVER CITY : Studio Ready to Roll on Drive-In.

October 13, 1994|MARY MOORE

Bucking a trend that has threatened to make drive-in theaters obsolete, the city may once again crank up the projectors at Studio Drive-In, which had shown movies for 45 years until it closed last year.

Pacific Theaters, the last operator of the drive-in at Sepulveda and Jefferson boulevards, shut it down in September, 1993, because it was losing money.

Now, Vitagraph Pictures, a post-production and editing studio in Marina del Rey, has proposed using the screen at least one night a week to preview some of the movies the company edits, the way private theaters now preview films for an invited audience.

The Culver City Redevelopment Agency, which owns the property, plans to review the proposal this month. The agency is also considering a long-term proposal to develop the property for housing.

But for now, it's show time.

"We don't think it's going to be a gold mine, but it will help us establish a preview audience," said George Zarcadoolas of Vitagraph Pictures. Oliver Stone has expressed interest in previewing some of his movies at the drive-in, Zarcadoolas said.

To give the drive-in an unusual flair, Vitagraph plans to line up antique cars at the front of the theater. And, harking back to the 1950s, the theater will employ carhops.

If the Culver City drive-in makes a comeback, it would be an oddity on the Westside, where multiscreen, surround-sound movie theaters abound. Even stranger is that Culver City, home to several movie studios, has had no public movie theaters since the drive-in closed.

Such theaters have been closing nationwide, as people opt for the multiscreen theaters. There are about 1,000 drive-ins nationwide, down from about 4,000 in the late 1950s, when they were running strong.

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