April 15, 2024

The Starlite Drive-In is saved: Anonymous Wichitan purchases theater

The Starlite Drive-In is saved: Anonymous Wichitan purchases theater

An anonymous Wichitan has purchased the Starlite Drive-In, Wichita’s only locally-owned and operated drive-in theatre.

The purchaser has not yet named themselves or their intentions to the public, but they have expressed their desire to keep the Starlite Drive-in open.

The drive in will not be open for movie nights until 2019 due to renovations, which includes repairing the screen and upgrading other features.

The starlite drive in theatre was opened and owned by Elmer Henderson for over 50 years before he died in 2013 at age 83. 

It was then owned by his son Randy until it closed its doors November 12th of this year due to financial difficulties.

According to Randy Henderson, the screen at his father’s Starlite Drive-In was in bad condition after years of rain and use, especially during late hours.

When asked about his father’s response to hearing about the closing of his drive in theatre he says he was upset, but also knew what would happen to it eventually. “It wasn’t going to last forever. 

The theatre closed because it needs a lot of work and maintenance or things break down that were just left out for years without being fixed. 

It just got too expensive to keep it open. We never kept anything going on there well enough, so we just decided it wasn’t worth the money anymore.”

Randy Henderson says he did not have the financial ability to keep the theatre open. He sold it to an unknown person who wishes to remain anonymous because of personal reasons. 

Here are some points discussed on the starlite drive-in is saved:-

1. Wichita only has one drive-in theater

People can ’t go to other theaters instead of drive-ins, because it is far away. It has one screen. It is not very near to peoples’ houses, so people have to drive long distances before they reach the theater.

2. The Starlite Drive-In cost $1 million dollars to save.

The man who bought the theater could lose his money, if people don’t go there to see movies. He has already spent the money for this theater. 

3. The theater is only $3 for admission, with kids movies free on Sundays.

People can go to the Starlite Drive-In to save money, because it is cheaper than other theaters. It costs much more to build a house than it does to buy a movie ticket that plays all night! 

Because of the low price of a ticket, people can enjoy watching movies at the Starlite Drive-In and then stay in Wichita for dinner and continue spending money in our city!

4. The man is paying off the loan during the next 25 years, which lasts for 75 years. 

He needs to spend 100 thousand dollars every year to pay down the loan at 6 percent interest rate during that time frame. 

He will have paid off his loan if he can hold out through 2019 with his up to date projection equipment and sound system. 

He will probably need to upgrade however because he will go through several sound systems during his 75 years of paying down his debt for this project at 6% interest rate.

5. The new owner has refurbished the theater. 

He removed all of the asbestos from the walls, which was endangering people’s lives. He also put in new ticket/reception desks, reupholstered seats, painted inside and out, replaced popcorn machines end movie projectors.

6. The Starlite Drive-In is the only drive-in theater in Wichita, Kansas.

The Starlite is set up in a city called Wichita, in a state called Kansas. It is a white building with a roof that looks like an umbrella. 

There are more theaters across the street. If you think that there’s another theater near your house, look again! 

I think that the Starlite Drive-In will be more popular because of its low price of admission, and it may be the only drive-in movie theater near you!

We have a new hero in Wichita! An anonymous Wichitan gladly paid the $1 million ransom to save the Starlite Drive-In Theatre from being torn down. 

Ticket prices will stay at just $3 for a triple-feature with free kids movies on Sundays. The Starlite Drive In Theatre is now our city’s only retro drive-in theater!

In 1938, when it first opened, the Starlite Drive In was one of approximately 4,000 drive-in theaters in America. But a nationwide downswing in attendance and lack of interest has left many once great theaters closed and demolished.

It was our idea to reopen the Starlite, so we asked the Wichita City Council for help. The approval came just recently. 

We now have a GoFundMe page to raise the money for a roof and sound system, as well as a couple of big screen projectors.

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Aaron Finch

There are many labels that could be given to describe me, but one thing’s for certain: I am an entrepreneur with passion. Whether it's building websites and social media campaigns for new businesses or traveling the world on business trips - being entrepreneurs means constantly looking at yourself in a different light so as not get bored of your own success!

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