For more than two decades, moviegoers in the northwest San Fernando Valley idled away their evenings watching first-run movies before the giant screens at the Winnetka 6 Drive-In in Chatsworth.
But last year the Los Angeles-based Pacific Theater chain decided to raze the facility to make way for a 26-screen multiplex, complete with restaurants and shops, scheduled to open by Memorial Day.
In their heyday, the 1940s and 1950s, drive-in theaters attracted patrons as car sales flourished, giving movie fans the ability to flock to the theaters built on cheap suburban land.
While the Winnetka 6 was built well after that, in 1975, there were many drive-in fans who were sad to see an era pass into the history books when the facility closed in mid-December. Even nearby residents who hadn't been to the sprawling theater complex in years bemoaned its passing.
"That theater holds a lot of memories," said Francine Oschin, an aide to Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the area. "[But] it's a megaplex world in which we're living."
With the closure of the Winnetka 6, the number of drive-in screens nationally drops to 848. With the closure of the Van Nuys Drive-In Theater on Roscoe Boulevard last year, the Winnetka 6 was the last of its kind in the Valley.