For seven years, Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in has been a place where families and friends can get together to watch movies under the open sky and relive childhood memories. The world’s first boutique drive-in movie theater has held fundraisers for diverse organizations in Austin and donated to charities, and has been a place for local up-and-coming filmmakers to showcase their talent.
So when Blue Starlite asked for help relocating to a new, permanent home in South Austin, its fans showed love, gratitude and support in return.
Support From the Austin Community
For the past four years, the drive-in was at home in the Mueller neighborhood, backed by Austin Film Society. As much as it felt like home, expansion was limited by the fact that Mueller used to be the location of Austin’s airport and the whole area is essentially a giant runway. Developments meant Blue Starlite would lose its spot on East 51st Street and have to move.
In a situation many would consider hopeless, Josh Frank, the mastermind behind Blue Starlite, found the silver lining. Moving to a new place would provide the opportunity to realize all the ideas he had had in mind for years, but couldn’t bring to life at the Mueller location. In order to raise funds for the venture, Frank created a campaign on Kickstarter. And boy, did the people of Austin show their support. In only 30 days, 250 pledged over $15,000.
Although the cost of building a drive-in is much higher, the money raised during the campaign helped introduce new features like a larger screen, 35 mm projection and permanent bathrooms. “Our fans really came out and supported us. It made me want to work harder to make the drive-in even better,” shared Frank.
New Location, New Features at Blue Starlite
Frank calls the location in South Austin “the new incarnation of Blue Starlite Drive-in.” The place is beautiful, spacious and–most importantly–green. If you prefer to watch a movie outside of your car, you can now bring a picnic blanket and sit on the grass, which wasn’t an option at Mueller.
A large patio with a fire pit and chairs is designated for roasting marshmallows. The approximately 30 poles marking parking spots will have speakers on them, which means you won’t need to tune in using your radio. The drive-in also features brand new “fancy” bathrooms, instead of the porta potties used at the previous location.
Probably the most fascinating feature of all is Camp Blue Starlite, the RV available for rental overnight. Inside, it’s divided into two parts: a living space and a party room. The living space includes a bedroom, bathroom and small kitchen. It can accommodate up to six people. You can rent it for the night and stay over after watching a double feature at the drive-in.
The party room is located at the back of the RV and is a perfect setting for date night, an anniversary celebration or a gathering of friends.
Drive-ins on the Rise
The fact drive-in theaters are popular in our day and age is surprising for many, but not for Frank. In fact, he believes that now, more than ever, drive-ins are on the rise. For one thing, they provide a unique entertainment experience. While conventional cinemas are being replaced by Netflix and iTunes, the drive-in experience is impossible to replicate.
Another point of attraction is the ability to use gadgets while you are watching the movie. No “Please, switch off your phone” announcements. In the comfort of a car, you can use technology all you want without disturbing others.
Finally, drive-ins are perfect for families with small kids. Frank, who has a one and a half year old, explained, “I say, we cater to post-hipsters–people who used to have time to be hip, but now they have little kids. We are old enough to have children, so we can’t do crazy cool stuff all the time, but our independent business allows you to bring your whole family.”
Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in opened at 12419 Lowden Lane on March 10, 2017. Get your tickets online now to be one of the first to visit the new location.
@thefoodiemiles wants to know:
What’s your favorite classic drive-in movie?