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How many drive-in movie theaters are in the US?

Cortney Moore

The lockdown of multiplex cinemas during the coronavirus pandemic gave a spotlight to social distancing-friendly drive-ins they may not have had since Olivia Newton-John dumped John Travolta in one near the end of "Grease," Hollywood's recreation of 1950s teen Americana.

Finding a drive-in near you these days, however, is considerably trickier than it was during the Eisenhower administration.

There are only 321 drive-in movie theaters in the U.S., according to a survey on online statistics portal Statista. It's a far cry from the industry’s heyday in the late 1950s, when about 4,000 were operating, according to DriveInMovie.com.

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It's also a decline from the 349 drive-ins open between 2015 and 2017 as well as from the 593 that existed in 1995.

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United Drive-In Theater Owners Association suggests the number of theaters in the country may be even fewer than Statista reports: As of October 2019, it counted only 305 drive-in movie sites with 549 screens throughout the U.S.

New York has the highest concentration, with 28 sites and 49 screens, while Pennsylvania tied with 28 sites but fell short with 45 screens.

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The five other states that have drive-in movie theaters in the double digits include Ohio, with 24 sites (44 screens); Indiana with 19 sites (35 screens); California with 15 sites (44 screens); Texas with 12 sites (28 screens); and Tennessee with 11 sites (19 screens).

Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana and North Dakota, on the other hand, have no drive-in movie theaters at all, according to the association.

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