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Drive-Ins aren’t quite yet a thing of the past, Madison

There are a handful of outdoor theaters nearby to watch a movie.

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Starlite 14 Drive-In in Richland Center plays first run movies. | Photo via Starlite 14

You don’t have to drive far to watch a drive-in movie. Though its been decades since their heyday, drive-in movie theaters are still here in Wisconsin, providing family-friendly fun — oftentimes with a tub of popcorn and a box of Juju Bees.

Opening credits

Historically speaking, Madison had two big drive-ins. One was Big Sky Drive-In on Mineral Point Road. The 1,100-car establishment opened May 27, 1954 with the Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor movie “I Love Melvin.” It had a 90-ft screen and was built by the Middleton-Twentieth Century Drive-In Corporation, which also operated the local Orpheum, Strand, and Parkway Theatres. Big Sky closed in 1984 and was subsequently demolished.

The other was the Badger Outdoor Theatre on Stoughton Road. It opened with the Rita Hayworth film, “Down to Earth,” on September 4, 1948. With room for 600 cars, the theater ran until 1989. “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was one of its last showings.

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Located in Wisconsin Dells, the Big Sky Drive-In Theatre plays double features on digital equipment. | Photo via Big Sky Drive-In Theatre


In the late 1950s, there were nearly 80 drive-ins in Wisconsin. Now, there are only a handful. The curtain still rises every summer at these theaters close to Madison:

Big Sky Drive-In Theatre, N9199 Winnebago Rd., Wisconsin Dells
Through June 20, the theater is showing “Inside Out 2,” “The Watchers,” “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” and “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.”

Goetz Sky-Vu Drive In, N1936 WI-69, Monroe
Upcoming openings at the theater include “Despicable Me 4" on Friday, July 5, “Twisters” on Friday, July 19, and “Deadpool & Wolverine” on Friday, Aug. 2.

Highway 18 Outdoor Theatre, W6423 US18, Jefferson
Wisconsin’s first digital cinema drive-in shows “Inside Out 2" and “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” this weekend.

Starlite 14 Drive-In, US. Hwy. 14 E., Richland Center
For the next two weekends, Starlite will present “Inside Out 2" and “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.”

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