Wanna buy a drive-in movie theater? Well, you're in luck. The North 19 Drive-In in Cuba, Missouri, is for sale. It's been on the market since the end of April, but you might want to snap this one up because a drive-in is not just something you can buy every day, and this one is, by all accounts, a beaut.
(Though local opinion may be swayed a bit by the fact that it's also the only movie theater in Cuba; the next nearest theater, a regular indoor one, is eighteen miles away.)
Located just off I-44, the North 19 has been showing movies on its single screen since 1954. It has a 250-car capacity and a few old-fashioned speakers so you don't have to wear out your car battery by listening to the soundtrack over the satellite radio.
Old movie theater enthusiasts are concerned that, owing to its prime location, the North 19 will be bought by some commercial developer and demolished.
One Cuba resident, Carla Graham, is so concerned about the fate of the theater that she posted a message on Cinema Treasures, a website devoted to the goings-on in the world of vintage theaters. If the theater is destroyed, she suspects it will be replaced by a restaurant or a truck stop.
"People will be disappointed if it closes," she says. "The drive-in has been around a long time and they usually pack a pretty full house. It's a nice thing to have in town."
Meanwhile, the theater is still packing them in. This weekend, it's showing Eclipse (which is, in case you don't spend much time with thirteen-year-old girls, the third Twilight movie).
The Venture Real Estate Company in St. Louis (the Bevo neighborhood, to be precise) is handling the sale. They have not, however, responded to any of Graham's inquiries as to the theater's asking price. They haven't responded to any of Daily RFT's, either. If anybody finds out, please drop us a line in the comments.
Updated 11:15 a.m.: Jerome Lammert of Venture Realty, the agent handling the sale, just gave Daily RFT a call. Technically, he says, just the 11.41 acres of land the theater sits on is for sale, but he's willing to include the theater business itself in the contract if the buyer is interested. With the theater or without, the asking price is $2 million.
There have been a lot of inquiries, Lammert says. "Most have been interested in the theater." (Which he pronounces "the-ay-ter.") At the moment, he's working with one serious prospect who has promised to get back to him in about a month.
No matter what happens, Cubans will have another long summer at the drive-in. "It's going to take a long time to get [the deal] together," says Lammert.