It's showtime! Killarney, Man., drive-in theatre to reopen after screen destroyed in storms

A southern Manitoba drive-in theatre hasn't shown a movie for nearly six years, but they're hoping it will soon be showtime once again — thanks to a few well-placed shipping containers.

Family bought shipping containers and painted them white to build a sturdier screen to withstand storms

It might not look like much more than three painted shipping containers right now, but the Struss family hopes to be projecting movies onto it by the summer. (Submitted by Joanne Struss)

The owners of a southern Manitoba drive-in theatre haven't shown a movie for nearly six years, but they're hoping it will soon be showtime once again — thanks to a few well-placed shipping containers.

Joanne Struss and her family own the Shamrock Drive-In movie theatre in Killarney, Man., which is about 200 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, directly south of Brandon.

The family hopes they've built a screen that will stand the test of time, and of Manitoba storms.

They're using four shipping containers painted white. Two form the base, and two more are stacked on top. 

"We wanted to make sure it was stable," Struss said on CBC Manitoba's Information Radio on Friday.

"Just shortly after the screen went up, we had a major wind come through. It was predicted to be about 80 kilometres an hour, and so my husband actually sat there just staring at the screen to see if it would even waver."

Joanne Struss and her family bought four shipping containers and painted them to serve as a screen. (Submitted by Joanne Struss)

The family is no stranger to bad weather calling "cut" on their showings.

In 2015, a storm destroyed half of the movie screen. The family carried on for the rest of that year by showing smaller movies on what was left of the screen.

Just as they were ready to open again in June of 2016, another storm finished off the remaining half of the screen. 

"At that point, we just kind of had to pause," Struss said.

"We were in the midst of building our house ourselves. And we just had to focus now on that, and put the drive-in on the back burner until that was finished."

The Shamrock Drive In theatre in Kilarney, Man., was hit by storms in 2015 and 2016 that demolished their screen. (Google Maps June 2016)

Struss says the drive-in is a labour of love. It only makes enough money to cover its own costs, and the family has a couple other businesses on the go.

Even so, they don't want to give it up.

"There's so many things I love about it. I love working with the family. I love how excited my kids get. I love how happy people are when they come," Struss said.

"One of the cutest things is watching a couple come in and, you know, it's their first date and it's so cute. You get to watch all this stuff play out ... and there's kids galore and they're running around and they're having fun."

The owners hope to welcome movie lovers back in the summer. (Facebook)

The family is hoping to be able to open by July and will likely play previously-released movies.

They have capacity for 185 vehicles to be safely distanced.

"I think regardless of what a show there'll be, there'll be some people who want to come out just for something fun to do," Struss said.

"It's such a different thing to watch movies under the stars."

With files from Janice Grant


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