Wednesday, August 9, 2017
The Miracle Twin Drive-In Theatre
Outside of Flint, Michigan there's two forgotten screens, but just one abandoned drive-in.
I've been photographing abandoned places for a long time. Ten years ago, I shot my first abandoned drive-in movie theatre. This is the fifth and I have to admit that out of all the subjects over the years, these are some of my favorites. I always seem to come across them in summer months, times where they would normally be doing their best business. There's something nostalgic about drive-in's, something you can really appreciate about them even if you didn't exist in the era of peak "ozones" as they're nicknamed.
Cincinnati is lucky to have two still operating in the greater area, an incredibly rare perk in an era where these places are quickly dying off. On a road trip through Michigan, I came across this place in a suburb of Flint. Unlike the others I've visited, both active and inactive, this one had two screens. They're still there, sitting high above overgrown lots and speaker poles, basking in the summer sun rather than the lights of projectors. The concession stand and admission booths have been demolished and behind the plywood, the marquee slots still sit. Near the highway, the decaying sign still remains.
"The Miracle" opened in 1972 and could hold around 1,000 cars. Like "The Oakley" in Cincinnati, Miracle eventually closed down after finding itself owned by National Amusements, the corporate theater company primarily known for their "traditonal," indoor operations. The drive-in was located directly next to a mobile home complex/subdivision. Close enough that if anyone hopped on their roof with an FM radio, they'd easily have a free pass to summers of movies. I haven't been able to find a record of the last films to play here, but a photograph on the website Cinema Treasures shows "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" with "Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins" billed on one screen and "Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" with "Fool's Gold" on the other. All of these movies came out in the Spring of 2008 and only one (Sarah Marshall) had good reviews.
When its death was announced, local officials told the press that they were hoping to redevelop the land. Yet, ten years later, the screens still stand. If you're ambitious enough to host a "guerrilla drive-in," there's a perfect spot for you just outside of Flint, Michigan.
Other abandoned drive-in stories on QC/D over the years:
The Lake Drive-In Theatre
The Oakley Drive-In Theatre
A drive-in theatre as seen in Decatur, IN while on a road trip
One in Logan, Ohio