Ghoulish? Maybe. In an April full of stories about drive-ins reopening for another season, I’m relaying one about the final day of a retired screen.
The Sunset Drive-In in Ontario OH closed in 2015, and Joe Lykins bought the property in 2019. Lykins disassembles old barns and uses their vintage wood to build new structures, and he needed room to work. According to the Mansfield News Journal, Lykins recently needed to add a retaining pool to the property, and that meant the screen had to go. The newspaper captured a fine video of the screen-toppling last week.
In the accompanying news story, Lykins said the drive-in wasn’t economically viable. He tried to give away the screen, but had no takers. “People are going to hate me,” he said.
According to Cinema Treasures, the drive-in opened in 1947 as the Mansfield-Galion. It was renamed the Sunset before the 1953 season. It persisted as a family-owned business until the movie studios’ digital imperative required theaters to buy expensive new projectors or close. The Sunset chose to go dark when film ran out.