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Making the drive-in rounds

By Staff
Kim West, Franklin County Times
I grew up in a town with a drive-in movie theater, and there's even one here in Russellville.
But I've never been to King's Drive-In, and I only visited the Cinemagic in Athens once.
That excursion took place during high school with Amber, who is one of my best friends and one of those people who hates to miss any part of a movie, even the previews.
We actually spent most of the movie distracted by the antics of two of our classmates parked in front of us, but that's a completely different story.
The Cinemagic had two screens placed at opposite ends of the parking lot, and for some reason I can't remember which movie we saw that night but I do remember that "Saving Private Ryan" was playing on the other screen.
For a couple of semesters, while I was at the University of North Alabama, I still worked at a diner in Tuscaloosa.
Nearly every weekend I drove past King's Drive In as I headed south on U.S. 43.
I now pass it two times a day as I commute to work from Florence, which has two indoor theaters but no drive-in, and I think it's time for me to ditch the air-conditioned confines of indoor theaters and give drive-ins another chance.
This decision prompted me to look up the origins of the drive-in theater, because I love finding out the history behind places.
I found out that a New Jersey man named Richard Hollingshead patented his drive-in movie theater concept in 1933.
By 1958, there were as many as 4,063 drive-ins in the U.S. but their popularity decreased steadily in the 1980s. According to, there are now 545 drive-in movie theaters in operation worldwide, including 417 in the U.S. and nine in Alabama.
I think it would be fun to visit all of the drive-in theaters in this state, so I'm making plans to visit Boaz, Centre, Guin, Cleveland, Argo, Henegar and Piedmont. But watching a new release at King's is first on that list.