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It ain't like it used to be at the drive-in theatre

As baby boomers got older, they became a lot less rowdy when they went to the drive-in movie theatre in the 1980s -- especially when they brought their kids with them.

Fewer rowdy teenagers and a lot more kids at the drive-in lot in 1982

The drive-in theatre audience matures

40 years ago
Duration 0:30
The drive-in theatre was attracting a less rowdy crowd by the early 1980s than it did in decades past.

The drive-in movie theatre had evidently lost some of its edge by the time the 1980s rolled around.

As of the summer of 1982, reporter Dana Karkheck explained to CBC viewers that "people actually come to watch the movie," as opposed to being there for... other pursuits.

But there were still lots of kids going to to the show — actual children, whose baby boomer parents were bringing them there.

The fact that a Toronto-area drive-in had installed playground equipment is a good indication that it was relying on parents for steady business, when a CBC reporter visited in 1982. (Spotlight/CBC Archives)

Hence the playground equipment seen at the highway-adjacent, Toronto-area drive-in that Karkheck visited for his report.

No more window-mounted speakers

In 1982, the people visiting a Toronto-area drive-in theatre simply wrapped a wire around their antenna to ensure they would get good sound for the show. (Spotlight/CBC Archives)

It wasn't just the audience that was changing back then, but also the audience experience. 

Instead of having to mount a chunky speaker on their car window, as in the past, moviegoers merely had to connect a wire to their car antenna to enjoy the movie.

Changes to the drive-in experience

40 years ago
Duration 0:31
There was no need for a window-mounted squawk box when patrons visited this Toronto-area drive-in in 1982.

But Karkheck predicted that even this more convenient setup would not stave off the eventual demise of the drive-in.

"The land they're on is worth big bucks and operators are only too eager, they say, to sell to developers," he said.

Cars are seen gathered at a Toronto-area drive-in theatre in 1982. (Spotlight/CBC Archives)

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