New Index for Yumpu’s Boxoffice issues

I just posted an index to all of the Boxoffice magazines hosted at To start with, it’s only the issues from 1948 through 1965, the era with the most drive-in theater news. Let me tell you why this index is important.

The cover of the Jan. 3, 1948 issue of Boxoffice, available on Yumpu

By the way, hi there! How are you? I’ve been pretty good considering (waving arm at the world). My focus for over a year has been a big project that I’ll talk about very soon, but it’s not this one. Anyway…

Once upon a time, the generous folks at Boxoffice magazine hosted its own archive of back issues, called the Vault, freely available for any internet user to read. (You can see what it used to look like in this Internet Archive capture.) Boxoffice was always the gold standard of movie theater news. It published several regional editions, presumably because a theater owner in Miami didn’t care what was going on in Seattle and vice versa. The gold standard of the gold standard was the National Executive Edition, published for the movie executive who wanted to read about every region’s news. The Vault was full of these NEE versions.

At about the same time, Yumpu also began hosting quite a few of these Boxoffice NEE issues, apparently provided by the same generous magazine workers. Yumpu is an amazing Swiss site with zillions of magazines, but I’ve never been able to find much organization there. Looking for a particular issue feels like rummaging through a deep bin of random magazines at a charity sale, and even Google searches are hit and miss.

About a year ago, the Boxoffice archive went offline. When I asked about it, I got a very friendly reply indicating that the company had an issue with the archive’s host, and it was too busy surviving during the pandemic to spare a lot of resources to restore the archive elsewhere. (I suggested that the Internet Archive would love to share that content with the world, but maybe the company wanted to keep control of its back issues.) Sure enough, as theaters slowly return to full speed, the Vault is still gone.

In the absence of that archive, I turned again to Yumpu’s Boxoffice holdings, of which the University of Pennsylvania’s Online Books Page wrote, “it can be difficult to find a specific issue, and there may be coverage gaps.” So I rolled up my sleeves and began clicking through thousands of issues, storing the link to each one. Some were mislabeled, all were out of order, but none of that mattered. I kept a list by date, adding those links.

The result is an unofficial, probably incomplete index of every Boxoffice issue available on Yumpu. I was surprised at the high percentage that’s available, probably 75% or so if you don’t count 1961, which is completely missing. I compiled the whole thing mainly for myself, because it’s such a great tool for drive-in theater history research, but I’m happy to share it with you. Enjoy!

Carload in the News

Bombay Beach "Drive-In," an art installation of junk cars facing a white tractor-trailer "screen"
Here’s another example of a non-drive-in. In Bombay Beach CA, there’s a clever life-size piece of art of junk cars facing a white tractor-trailer as a screen, with a Bombay Beach Drive-In sign. But even if they showed movies on that screen while patrons sat in the junk cars, it wouldn’t be a drive-in, because nobody drives in. Photo by DesignClass on Unsplash

This is getting meta. A short time after I wrote a post about not writing posts, Carload showed up in an article about drive-ins. That article mentioned the post about not writing posts, and now I’m adding a post about the article.

Anyway, this was a very nice article about the present and future of drive-ins, written by Joseph Williams for S&P Global Market Intelligence. That’s one of those outlets that informs investors and business folks about trends and shifting winds and those next big opportunities. I suspect that the article’s first paragraphs, mostly about me doing things like spiking a speaker to the gravel in reaction to The Gong Show Movie, were pop-culture sweetening to lure readers into the back-loaded nutritious market discussion.

Williams also touched on the question of how many active drive-ins there are in the US today, really. Do flat parking lots with pop-up screens count? John Vincent Jr., president of the United Drive-In Theatre Owners’ Association, probably doesn’t think so. “Nothing beats a movie at a real drive-in that has proper ramps and has the huge screen,” he told WIlliams.

I addressed this a long time ago. If the screen stays in one place, it doesn’t matter how puffy it is. If people in cars can drive up, park, and watch a movie, ramps aren’t important. That’s the way I see it, though I can understand Vincent thinking that all drive-ins should look like his dues-paying members’ drive-ins.

Anyway, since this post is supposed to be about Carload in the news, here’s one more article to read. In late June, while I was busy not writing posts, Smithsonian magazine ran an article about the 2020 summer of drive-ins, and Carload showed up again in the second paragraph. I wish they’d have told me that they were going to profile the Kanopolis; they could have used my photo.

How are you doing?

For this cropped bit of stock photography, do you know which drive-in was holding this religious service? I sure don’t. © Depositphotos / everett225

Hi there! Are you well? I sure hope so. I’m sorry and a little embarrassed to have left you without fresh posts for so long. 2020 has been a very strange year, and its effect on drive-ins has also been very strange. Writing about anything so small and relatively unimportant feels like The News for Parrots, but this is a drive-in theater blog.

First, this new blog theme is jarring, but a WordPress update broke the menus on the theme I had been using. I’ll need some time to find a good replacement with a dark background like a drive-in Saturday night. At least this one still seems okay on phones as well as desktops.

Now, about my absence here for a few months. At the start, I was researching my next drive-in book, Drive-Ins of Colorado. That book should be out around the end of September, a date which seems much closer than it used to. Then the pandemic hit, locking out all in-person research tools and making me question what’s really important in life. The feeling passed after a few weeks, and I went back to work on the Colorado book and on updating last year’s book, Drive-Ins of Route 66.

Two quick notes: If you have any photos of Colorado’s drive-ins, especially those that aren’t active any more, that you’d like to offer for inclusion into that book, please drop me a line at mkilgore (at) by August 24. And if you would like to peruse a first draft PDF (free, and worth every penny) of the book in exchange for noticing my mistakes, send me an email at the same address. That PDF should be ready before Labor Day.

Oh, yes, the blog. There has been too much news about drive-ins this year. Some were blocked from opening. Others were encouraged to open. Concession stands were closed. Concessions were being sold at the box office. Some drive-ins reopened their concession stands and returned to the practice of blocking outside food. Pop-up drive-ins sprouted all over. Nobody had any fresh movies to show.

I feel especially bad about not really being able to maintain the list of active drive-ins. What’s there is correct as of January 2020, but what does an accurate list look like today? What does it mean when an established drive-in can’t open because of state or local mandates? When a pop-up opens in an indoor theater parking lot, is that really a new drive-in?

All of this is one tiny part of world upheaval. Over half a million painful deaths from the Covid virus. Society mostly shut down, then partially reopened into partial paranoia. A growing awareness that persons of color are less likely to have successful interactions with law enforcement than pale folks like me. Discussions of moving election dates, deciding which votes to count, and what are okay ways to vote. (Carload World HQ is in Colorado, an all-mail ballot state, yet I don’t feel corrupt.)

That’s why it’s hard for me to generate sufficient enthusiasm to relay a summary of the upcoming Metallica concert for drive-ins, or the new pop-up Motorama in Santa Fe NM, or even winds knocking down the long-closed Hill-Top’s screen in Joliet IL, although I do need to update the Route 66 book for that last one. I’ll drop by again when I have more news of my Colorado book, and maybe I’ll also find something else I’d enjoy sharing with you. Thanks always for dropping by.