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Sunset Drive In History/Spotlight

The Sunset Drive-In Theater conjures up memories of a simpler time. With its neon sign, old-fashioned commercials, and retro snack shack, it retains the style of the past while showing the newest and most exciting movie releases. The theater was built in 1950, and has been entertaining the population of the Central Coast ever since. Today, Larry Rodkey of Rodkey Theaters owns and operates the theater. He has fond memories of his childhood days helping his father with the movie projector and speaks lovingly about the development of the theater from the 50’s until right now. Today, its bright pink neon sign stands proudly on the side of the 101 North, with a retro and welcoming feel.

It’s amazing that our community has embraced the Sunset Drive-In for so long, especially since drive-ins have been disappearing all over the country since their peak in the 50’s and 60’s. Numerous causes contributed to the disappearance of the drive-in theater nation-wide. Since theaters were usually only open during summer nights, it was hard to keep them afloat when there were minimal chances to develop a profit. Additionally, these outdoor theaters faced the threat of other entertainment that was developing at the same time – color television, VCRs, and movie rentals – commodities made consuming media easier and more convenient for families to do at home.

But the Sunset Drive-In stayed strong in San Luis Obispo, perhaps due in part to our pleasant weather year-round and small town, community feel. Drive in theaters started to reappear in the 90’s & 00’s, but catering to a more nostalgic audience and reminding viewers and visitors of a simpler time.

So today, pay a visit to the Sunset Drive-in theater, where family friendly current releases play nightly! The prices are great; two features for the price of one. Get cozy in the car after buying some of their delicious nachos or pizza and enjoy the show under the stars.

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