West Texas Movie History

A Historical look at Movie houses and Drive In Movies in West Texas

By John Southwell & Chad Hauris: Updated 1/22/07

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Quick Navigate: Big Sky D.I., Midland   Old Theaters in Odessa and Pecos  Audio Files  Link to Aerial Photos

Theater Tours  Historical Photos

Big Sky Drive-In, Midland, TX.
Big Sky Drive-In Snack Bar Menu

Read complete illustrated story of Big Sky Grand Opening (on Weds. 10/19/05)

I saw on My West Texas Forums that the Drive-in was scheduled to open Weds. 10/5. I got fresh batteries for the radio, brought the lawn chair and the blanket to put in the back of the Retro Truck and headed to the drive-in in expectation of Chihuahua sandwiches, ice-cold pickles, and other taste treats along with an evening of movie enjoyment. Got to the theatre and it said it was closed! I wondered "what the heck?!" and drove home. Found out in the paper next day that the county health department did not approve the septic system so they were forbidden to open...here's hoping they get through this problem and get open soon! I'm ready for the grand opening!

Big Sky now has radio announcement that they will be opening in a few weeks. You can hear it on 89.9 FM as you drive by the drive-in. Trucks were driving into the drive-in, working on it, so some more progress is being made.

8/29/05: Big Sky opening is being held up apparently due to delays in being issued a septic tank permit from the City of Midland.
Here is a message in the Midland Reporter Telegram's discussion forum from someone who talked with the owners at the Sky-vue in Lamesa.

Link to Drive-Ins.com page for Big Sky.

8/24/05: Big Sky opening pushed back to September.
Midland Reporter-Telegram Article

7/26/05: New photos of Big Sky Drive-In.
Big Sky Sign  Screens from a Distance   Completed Screen  Playground Equip.

7/11/05: Big Sky Drive-in may not open till August. 
Odessa American Newspaper Article

7/8/05: The Big Sky Drive-in in Midland was scheduled to open July 30.  Coinciding with the grand opening was to be a car show by the Permian Basin Auto Club. Here is a website for the Auto Club with more info.

Here is a link to a website for Midland's Big Sky Drive-In  The concession stand exterior is completed, and the screen panels are now going up on the screen towers. Estimated opening time is said to be the end of July.

6/18/05: Pictures of new Big Sky Drive-in in Midland.
These are pictures of the drive-in being constructed.
Screen framework  Ticket Booth

Old Theaters in Odessa and Pecos

Audio Files Section
1960 Drive In Intermission/Pre-Show Record with AUDIO! Head on down to the snack bar for some Taste Treats! Actual audio used at the Garland Road Drive-In, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 6, 1960.

1959 KCRS Radio spot for the Yucca Theater From a 78 rpm record...hear audio on an MP3 file and see record label.

Theater Tours:
Photo tour of Ritz Theatre, Midland, TX. (Jan. 2007)

A visit to the Roseland Theater, Pana, Illinois This theater was built in 1941 and is still operating. It uses carbon-arc lamphouses.

We explore the site of the El Rancho Drive-In on South Rankin Hwy. We found the remains of the screen and concession/projection building, along with some drive-in speaker transformers.

Here is a web site of someone who found aerial photos and topographical maps indicating Drive-In's in Texas.

Historical Photos:

Ads for the El Rancho Drive-in from the Midland Reporter-Telegram: The El Rancho appears to only have operated in 1954 based on the research I did in newspaper ads. It may be that it operated later but just did not advertise.

Ad from July 5, 1954: Shows what's playing at the Yucca, Chief, Ritz, and El Rancho. (480 K File)

Another ad from July 1954: Advertises fireworks at the Chief, Fiesta, and El Rancho (700 K File)

Ritz Theater historical photo. The theater has most recently been a Night Club.

The Texan Drive-In More information is at Texan Drive-In page at www.drive-ins.com.

The Tower Theater

Yucca Theater Historical photo. There is an article at Texas Escapes with Modern Photos of the Yucca Theater. The marquee has been removed and replaced with an awning. The Yucca is currently in operation with live performances such as the variety show Summer Mummers.

Chief Drive-In More information is at This Page at www.drive-ins.com. There is now a hospital located where this drive-in once was: on Andrews Hwy. between Midland and Golf Course streets.

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