WMTV, Madison WI’s News Leader, reported some sad news last night. The Starlite 14 Drive In in Richland Center may showing movies for just a couple more weeks, according to an announcement by its owners, Lisa and Bill Muth.
In a post on the drive-in’s Facebook page, Bill Muth wrote, “We have decided to retire from the theater business. … The Starlite 14 Drive-In will close permanently after the completion of the 2019 season on September 1, 2019.” He added that he would soon attempt to sell the Starlite and his indoor Center Cinema.
Muth’s description of the situation in the WMTV video sounded just a bit more positive. “If nobody buys the theater, and they don’t buy it and reopen it next year, it will be permanently closed, and it will be gone.”
Personally, I see a lot of room for optimism. The Starlite 14 has digital projection (already paid off, Muth wrote), and it’s still mostly surrounded by farm land. While it’s true that it won’t reopen if no one ever buys it, the site doesn’t look attractive for warehouses or apartments, so I’d say its best use is still as a drive-in theater. Here’s hoping some buyer agrees with me some time this off-season.