Buckle up – Drive-in movie theatre coming to Bay Roberts this summer

A new drive-in theatre in Bay Roberts was announced Wednesday, but there is still no official opening date The residents of Bay Roberts will soon be able to watch movies from their car.

The town of Bay Roberts will be the home of the Mad Rock drive-in movie theatre. Tyler Mugford/Kicker
The town of Bay Roberts will be the home of the Mad Rock drive-in movie theatre this summer. Tyler Mugford/Kicker.

The Mad Rock drive-in movie theatre is bringing a blast from the past to Bay Roberts this summer.

Drive-in movie theatres have been around for quite some time. The first one was opened in 1933 in the United States by a man named Richard Hollingshed.

But it wasn’t until the advent of in-car speakers in the late 1940s that drive-in movie theatres took off.

What sparked the success of the drive-in theatre was the convenience of it; viewers could simply drive to the theatre, buy snacks and watch a movie all without leaving their cars.

Although drive-in theatres were primarily located in the States, this province isn’t a stranger to them, as multiple start-ups popped up over the years.

One of the better-known drive-ins in this province was the Brookfield Theatre. Located in Mount Pearl, it was started in 1973 and was known to attract 600 vehicles a night.  

Juanita Miller watched an occasional movie at the Brookfield, and she says she will never forget the memories she made there.

“I loved it,” Miller said. “I enjoyed all the times when me and husband went there. To be able not to pay for a babysitter, bundle my child up and put him in his car seat and just watch a movie was great. It was awesome really.”

Although, it’s called the “Mad Rock drive-in theatre,” the drive-in  will actually be located somewhere in Bay Roberts.

Known for it's rugged cliffs and high winds, Delaney says putting a drive-in movie theatre is geographically impossible. Tyler Mugford/Kicker.
Mad Rock is known for its rugged cliffs and high winds. Ron Delaney says putting a drive-in movie theatre there would be geographically impossible. Tyler Mugford/Kicker.

Ron Delaney, director of tourism and economic development in Bay Roberts, says ultimately the drive-in theatre is going to be an experiment for the town.

“We did show movies here in the summertime before. So this time we said, ‘Why not go and try this theatre?’ It’s going to be an experiment and it should be interesting for a pilot project.”

In the past, viewers would have to either use a speaker at the drive-in theatre or tune into an AM station. Delaney says with the use of an FM transmitter the audience will be able to connect to the movie via an FM signal.

Delaney says the town of Bay Roberts is aiming for a total viewing size of 50-60 cars and the idea came from the younger generation.

“It’s coming from teenagers who don’t have very much to do in rural Newfoundland, and they’re taking it upon themselves to find something to do and hopefully we as the municipality and the department of tourism will help them achieve that goal,” Delaney said.

With the positive response from the community on the Facebook post, Delaney says the feedback adds a lot of excitement.

“We usually post things and we usually get 15 or 20 shares. On this post, we have over 1,000 shares. So, that makes us even more encouraged to try this project and see if it works.”

Delaney says the drive-in theatre is still in early stages of development but it should be up and running sometime this summer.

Miller says that we need to see these ways of entertainment come back into modern society because it helps us realize what we have and don’t have.

“It puts a big perspective on what we had at one time that we don’t have now and to let younger people see and experience what we used to do when we were kids.”


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