New screen brightening the experience at Starlite Drive-In


It’s not the price. Nor the lines to use the restrooms. Nor the trip across town. It’s the other people who sit behind, in front and beside him. My friend’s husband hates going to the movies. People might talk during the scenes or kick the back of his seat. Or rustle candy wrappers and crinkle their water bottles. He usually Will Not Go.

But there are just over 300 drive-in theaters in the U.S., and one of them is just southwest of Bloomington — the Starlite. There we can cocoon in our vehicles while enjoying a big-screen experience, only interacting with other patrons at the concession stand or in line for the restrooms. Despite some still-chilly nights, the Starlite Drive-In reopened last month for the 2022 season after its usual winter hiatus.

A bright new screen awaits movie-lovers at the Starlite Drive-in southwest of Bloomington. A radio signal brings the sound to the cars' sound system.

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According to, the United Drive-in Theatre Owners Association reported 305 drive-in theaters were operating in the U.S. with 549 screens as of late 2019. New York, Pennsylvania. Ohio and California had the most; Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana and North Dakota didn’t have any that year.

So, we are lucky to have the Starlite Drive-in, opened in 1955 by Carl and Ruth Stewart, who ran it for almost five decades. The business is now operated by its fourth owners, as they carry on this Monroe County custom. The Barnhart family and KJB Theaters follow the Jarvis and Freeman families, who rescued the Starlite by converting it to digital projection. In addition, this year there is a brilliant new screen, and the concession stand has been completely updated.

The Starlite Drive-in has updated its concession stand to better serve its customers.

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A theater’s projection system is, as far as the audience is concerned, the key part of the cinema experience. It’s what makes the film look like it does.

With reels of actual film, each time a movie runs through a projector, the film’s quality degrades slightly. Movies that have been around for awhile will show not just the story, but hundreds of scratches amid granules of grime.

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