Bloomington yesterday: Big screen drive-in movie shows
In 1966, what was touted as “the world’s most beautiful and distinctive drive-in theatre” opened at 7800 France Avenue South, bordered by I-494 to the south (photo looks to the south) and France Avenue to the east. The Mann France Avenue Drive-In launched with a double feature of “Our Man Flint” and “The Second-Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World” shown on a horizontal curved screen, claimed to be the world’s largest. With space for 1,600 – 1,700 cars, this drive-in had room for larger-than-life entertainment on a large scale. The parking lot was so vast, on the way back from the concession stand customers could forget where they parked.
Besides the carpeted, air-conditioned snack bar, other amenities included supervised playgrounds, wide spacing between speakers, pole mounted car-heaters, spacious restrooms and even a uniformed security officer. During the 70s, the drive-in was updated with new projection stands and a triplex of screens.
The final act of movie-going came in 1982 when the Mann France Avenue Drive-In closed. Four years later, the Bloomington landmark was razed. Even the best of shows comes to an end.