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Warwick Drive-in
Status: Operating seasonally from March to October
Location: 9 Warwick Turnpike, Rte 94, Warwick, NY 10990
Website: www.warwickdrivein.com
Phone: 845-986-4440
Screens: 3
Capacity: Unknown
Original owner: Built by Charles Finger and George Miller, operated by Frank Seeber from 1977 to 1996, currently operated by Ernie & Beth Wilson
Opening date: April 28, 1950
 

This page was last updated on December 30, 2009.

Originally, Warwick Drive-In Theatre was built in 1950 by Charles & Mary Finger and George & Adeline Miller on 5 acres of land owned by Paul & Emma Miller. George & Adeline sold out to Russ & Gloria Eurich. It had one 70’ x 40’ screen and parking for 350 cars. Soon, the Fingers bought out the business from the Eurichs. It was run successfully by the Finger family for 25 years.

Back in those days, salesmen would come from the film companies to lease their films to the theatre for a $12.50 flat fee for 3 or 4 days at a time. Now, film distributors charge up to 90% of the theatre’s gross ticket sales and demand 3 to 4 weeks for each film. Eventually, competition heated up and Mr. Finger successfully bid to make the drive-in a first run theatre, giving it the right to play the films on the same date as they were released in New York City.

Mr. and Mrs. Finger decided to retire and in 1977 sold the drive-in to Frank Seeber. Paul Miller’s widow, Emma Miller Sisco, decided against leasing out the property so Frank also had to buy the acreage in order to fulfill his dream. He had been in the drive-in movie business since he was 13 years old, cleaning windshields for tips at Irving Hulst’s Tri-States Drive-in Theatre in Matamoras, PA, which closed in 2004. Now in his 30s, he had also managed the Newton (NJ) Drive-in Theatre (now closed) and had become a member of the projectionists’ union, IATSE, but owning his own drive-in theatre had always been his dream.

In 1982, Frank and his wife, Ann, bought more acreage from Emma Sisco and expanded the drive-in to two screens on 11 acres with two modern projection rooms, featuring Xenon lamps and huge automated platter systems to deliver the film to the new ORC projectors. Later a third screen was added. We built more ticket selling stations and complied with the town’s insistence on controlling the traffic and parking situations.

In 1996, the Seebers retired from the drive-in business and we purchased the theatre and land, forming Casey Family Theaters, Inc. The name came from a nickname for the youngest of our four children. Frank and Ann are still available when we need their expertise on an advisory basis, and you might even find Frank in the projection room on a busy summer night.

We look forward to the continuation of our family tradition of providing a unique Drive-in Theatre Experience along with popular entertainment since we are the only movie theatre in the Warwick area.

-- Courtesy of WarwickDrivein.com

 

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Topo Map from 1954, courtesy of TerraServer USA. Aerial image from 1970, courtesy of HistoricAerials.com. Aerial image from 1994, courtesy of Terra Server USA. Aerial image from 2006, courtesy of Google Earth.
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Aerial close-up image from 2006, courtesy of Google Earth. Grand opening tomorrow article from the Warwick Advertiser on April 27, 1950. Grand opening tomorrow ad from the Warwick Advertiser on April 27, 1950. Warwick Drive-in marquee from August 30, 2008.
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Warwick Drive-in entrance from August 30, 2008. Warwick Drive-in snackbar from August 30, 2008. Warwick Drive-in screen 1 from 2006. Warwick Drive-in screen 1 from 2009.
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Warwick Drive-in screen 2 from 2008. Warwick Drive-in screen 3 from September 1, 2007. Warwick Drive-in screens 2 (on left) and 3 (on right) from August 30, 2008. Warwick Drive-in screens 1, 2, and 3 from 2007.

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I can remember going to the Warwick Drive-In in the early 50s with my parents and my sisters. My older sister and I used to go to the play area where there were swings, a pony ride, etc. We sat on blankets in front of the family car to watch the movie. It was always a treat to go to the snack bar.
#1 - Jessie Bechtold - 05/30/2012 - 09:35
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