Then: The Oakley Drive-In is the last of a dying breed. Steve Ramos covered the aging theater and its manager, Scott Roberts, in the summer of 1996. He found out that although running a drive-in takes a lot of hard work, Roberts -- who'd been managing the theatre since 1989 -- wasn't about to let the work involved keep him from his passion: bringing the drive-in experience to the masses.
"I will be here next summer," Roberts said then. "Sure it's a lot of sacrifice, but I have a hard time letting it go." (Issue of July 11, 1996)
Now: The love affair with the drive-in has ended for Roberts, as he's no longer the manager in Oakley. The theater still stands and still does a brisk business -- open seven days a week, the drive-in can accommodate 900 cars. It features a double bill every night and on Saturdays and Sundays repeats the first show in the 2 a.m. hour.
These days, the Oakley Drive-In is managed by Sherri Blackbird, who, following company policy, wouldn't answer questions about the summer movie mecca. Rumors have been circulating that the Oakley Drive-In will close at the end of this summer, and after attempting to speak with the regional managers at National Amusements -- which owns the Oakley Drive-In -- CityBeat was referred to Jennifer Hanson, director of corporate communication for the movie conglomerate.
"While the drive-in business is seasonal," Hanson stated, "we anticipate continuation of the operation. Given the high value of the property, it is quite possible that the future use as a drive-in theater is limited, but that is not the current situation. There have been offers to purchase the property for other uses, but at the present time there is nothing pending."
The verdict? Drive-in lovers should feel free to battle the mosquitoes and enjoy watching Harry Potter and Shrek 2 on the giant screen until the drive-in falls victim to the corporate axe. Whenever that might be.
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