Marin Motor Movies: Marin’s Beloved Drive-in Theater

 

IT WAS THE era of “making out,” not “hooking up,” and Marin was not to be left behind. According to Marin IJ’s History Watch writer Michael Kilgore, “the 600-car-capacity Marin Motor Movies drive-in featured ‘hook-on’ speakers with volume that was adjustable depending on the amount of attention the car’s occupants wanted to devote to the screen.” In case you’re now lost in memories of teenage years, a bit of orientation might be in order: in this photograph, that’s Highway 101 cutting diagonally across the upper left side and Highway 580 is on the photo’s upper right side.

Marin Motor Movies opened on May 21, 1948, and lasted 34 years until it was replaced by today’s Marin Square shopping complex, which has recently been remodeled. And if you consider yourself a Marin old-timer, you’ll no doubt recall driving along either of these highways and catching a flicker of something playing that evening. In the mid-1960s, you might have glimpsed A Hard Day’s Night, featuring the Beatles, on the massive 41-by-52-foot screen. Also drawing Marinites to the seven-acre venue were traditional Easter Sunday sunrise services that occurred annually until the drive-in theater ceased operation in 1982.

This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s April 2020 issue under the headline “Screen Gems”.


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Jim Wood, former co-owner of Coast, has written articles and op-ed pieces for such Orange County publications as the Orange Coast Daily PilotMetropolitan JournalOC Metro, and Coast Magazine. His preferred topics are local and global issues, travel, and special interest stories. In 2000, Jim and Nikki Wood sold Coast Magazine to the Orange County Register and, after traveling the world, relocated to Marin County and began formulating Marin Magazine.