Winter Drive-In closes after more than 50 years in Wintersville | News, Sports, Jobs
WINTERSVILLE – After entertaining moviegoers across the Ohio Valley for more than 50 years, the screens at Winter Drive-In will go down for good.
Owner Ross Falvo said that after being in the market for several years, the 16½ acre land was sold to a company with other plans.
Falvo addressed questions about this to Joe Luckino of Cedar One Realty, who said a multi-million dollar industrial development that will bring 30 new jobs to the area is planned for this property.
Falvo said the decision to sell was driven by economics and current conditions in the film industry.
He said increased access to new films from his home has led to a decline in business. “Streaming has an effect on that. There is no doubt about it. he said, adding, “I think the audience is quite different.”
Falvo said the patronage has grown from teens and young adults, who made drive-ins popular destinations in the 1950s and 1960s, to grandparents and parents who bring kids because they want to share the experience. experience of the drive-in.
While that wasn’t enough to secure the future of Winter Drive-In, Falvo said he was happy to have been a part of this family experience and for everyone who has frequented the company over the years. .
“There were a lot of people who supported us and I thank them very much. he said.
Falvo said some regulars had helped the drive-through get through the setbacks imposed by COVID-19.
With a lack of new movies available for the summer, the Winter Drive-In resorted to releasing old favorites.
He said that although the pandemic is over in many places, movie studios are releasing their new product with caution.
“What they do is hold back the blockbusters for a later date,” said Falvo, who added that the Winter Drive-In reduced his days from seven to five.
He said even though business was dropping before and during the pandemic, the cost of running a drive-in or other theater had risen. Falvo said many people don’t know that 50 to 60% of every admission paid by viewers goes to the companies that distribute the films.
He conceded at the same time that his company and other small theater companies had to invest in digital projectors and other equipment to keep up with changes in film technology.
“There is no doubt that movies are now technologically better than they have ever been thanks to advances in digital video and sound” Falvo said.
He said that in 2017 a substantial investment was made in digital projection equipment with some financial support from the community. A fourth screen has also been added in recent years to boost business.
Wednesday’s final night will feature a mix of first-run movies and recently released movies. “F9: The Fast Saga” and “Nobody” will be displayed on screen # 1. “Peter Rabbit 2” and “Jumanji: welcome to the jungle” will play on screen # 2, and “Conjuration: the devil made me do it” and “The bodyguard of the hitman’s wife” will play on screen # 3.
Falvo said that, like many other local businesses, the Winter Drive-In has been affected by a declining economy.
“Let’s face it. The Steubenville-Wintersville area has been hit very hard by the decline in the steel industry,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful region. It is a shame the economic conditions with which it was hit.
The closing of drive-in parks is also part of a national trend.
The first drive-in is said to have opened in Camden, New Jersey, in 1933. Prior to that, there were outdoor theaters, but none where attendees watched from their vehicles.
In the 1950s, there were thousands. According to various sources, there are around 330 left in the United States
Opened in 1969, the Winter Drive-In was one of at least nine operated in Jefferson, Brooke or Hancock counties.
Others were the Hilltop Drive-In in Chester, which is still in operation; Airport Drive-In in Short Creek, Bell-Air Drive-In in Weirton, Blue Moon Drive-In in Wellsburg, Family Drive-In in Toronto, Ohio Valley Drive-In in Follansbee, Sunset Drive-In on the Steubenville-Wintersville line and Riverside Drive-In in Richmond.
Based in Pittsburgh, Falvo has operated indoor and outdoor theaters for many years and the Wintersville location is the last of its drive-ins. Lovers of various films, he said that the western “The Magnificent Seven” perhaps the first film he saw in a drive-in.
Winter Drive-In has entertained many area residents, its role in the community has gone beyond summer nights. Falvo said he had photos of the events held there, with awards given to the best decorated vehicles as well as the best costumes. Many flocked to the drive-in around Halloween to see the theater’s annual horror movie marathon.
The Winter Drive-In also teamed up with the Ohio Valley Jeep Alliance for First Responder Appreciation Days, when area emergency personnel were admitted free and other customers got to see up close. emergency vehicles.
Flea markets were another staple of the facility.
Falvo said many people, including many students, have been employed by the drive-in.
“There were a lot of nice people working there”, he said.
Falvo has reiterated its appreciation to the many visitors to the drive-in over the years.
“We appreciate the customers and would like to thank them for their support and hope the tri-state region can come back economically solidly for small independent businesses,” he said.