From fourth of July barbecues to the iconic root beer float, few things define America like a classic drive-in theater. The Van Buren Drive-In Theater in Riverside is a reminder that old traditions are resilient despite the changing times.
“It’s a classic way to have a bunch of friends and watch two movies for just $9,” said Saul Sanchez, senior business administration major. “Movie theaters are charging around $20 for just one short movie.”
For more than 50 years, the drive-in theater has kept audiences intrigued and allowed for entertainment to remain at an affordable price of just $9 for two movie showings. Out of 4,000 drive-ins in the mid ’50s, only 400 remain, four of them in Southern California.
“I think our generation does not understand that this was one of the first ways to watch a movie back in the ’50s and ’60s,” Sanchez said.
The Van Buren Drive-In was named after the street that the theater is located—Van Buren Boulevard in the Arlington district of Riverside. The cinema opened with a single screen in 1964, still able to captivate students in a modern setting.
“It’s different because you’re in your car; you can get as comfortable as you want and talk to your friends,” said Arian Ramos, senior health science major. “It’s a really good summer night thing to do. My favorite memory is watching the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ with the new Rwandan students just the last year.”
Movies playing at the theater include “The Transporter Refueled,” “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation,” and “Inside Out.” The movies shown are modern, but the experience of a classic drive-in adds a nostalgic flair to classic cinema.
While CBU students enjoy their favorite movies, they can also observe the art mural on the original screen tower that is facing Van Buren Boulevard. Up to this day, the vintage mural is still highly valued by collectors, serving as a nostalgic flourish.
“The drive-in allows for a different experience than what the typical theater permits,” said Jonathan Gradias, senior health education major. “I enjoy seeing movies like the ones that I have already seen before and laughing at them again.”