Tucson 4 Drive-In Theater

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Tucson 4 Drive-In

The photo above shows the Tucson 4 (later Tucson 5) drive-in about February 8, 1974.

The Tucson 4 was built by Syufy Enterprises of San Francisco. It was the first multi-screen drive-in in Tucson. A 5th screen was added in the late '70's.

It only existed for 14 years before it was torn down and replaced by a 12 screen (now 16 screens) indoor cinema owned by the same company.

Many people felt that this was the most luxurious drive-in ever built in Tucson. It boasted a large round snack bar with two serving lines, cafeteria style, as well as nice restrooms and video arcade machines.

Tucson 4 Drive-In

It was also the only drive-in in Tucson to offer electric in-car heaters during the winter months! Note the "FREE IN CAR HEATERS" at the bottom of the ad. This ad is from 1975.

Tucson 4 Drive-In

The Tucson 4 opened on Wednesday, Feb 6, 1974 with free movies for that Wednesday and Thursday. I couldn't find the names of the free movies listed anywhere. The first day for paid admission was Friday, Feb 8, 1974 with the following features:

Screen 1 - Johnathan Livingston Seagull (G) and Scalawag (G)
Screen 2 - That Man Bolt (R), High Plains Drifter (R), and Joe Kidd (PG)
Screen 3 - Billy Jack (PG), and Man in the Wilderness (PG)
Screen 4 - The Laughing Policeman (R), and Vanishing Point (PG)

Just for the sake of comparison, here's what was showing elsewhere in town that same day

At the Showcase 2, one of our first large screen indoor multis on Speedway, American Grafitti was in it's 6th week of an exclusive 7 week run, the Sting was on the other screen.

At the Midway DI, "The wildest ever 5-unit cycle show brought to the screen!" (Their words!) The five features were Wild Riders (R), The Sidehackers (PG) (In color!), The Wild Rebels (R), The Pink Angels (R), and The Hellcats (R).

The Apache DI was showing Crypt of the Living Dead (PG), Beast of the Yellow Night, and Creature with the Blue Hand.

Down the street a few blocks, the Rodeo DI was showing The Thunder Kick (R) (Are you ready to get your guts kicked out?) and A Town Called Hell (R).

The Prince DI was showing family fare with Disney's That Darn Cat and Now You See Him, Now You Don't.

The following Friday, Feb. 15, 1974, for it's second week, the Tucson 4 had changed features and was now showing:

Screen 1 - M*A*S*H (PG) and Catch 22 (R)
Screen 2 - Last Tango in Paris (X) and Midnight Cowboy (R)
Screen 3 - The Way We Were (PG) and Oklahoma Crude (PG)
Screen 4 - For it's first DI appearance in Tucson, American Graffiti (PG) and Pete and Tillie (PG)

Down the street about a mile from the Tucson 4, the Miracle DI had this gruesome triple bill:

Revenge of the Living Dead, Curse of the Living Dead, and Fangs of the Living Dead with Anita Ekberg. The triple feature was billed as "Can you survive this Orgy of the Living Dead?" All three films were rated (PG)

There was a little sidebar showing a wild eyed maniac with the following "Warning":

"This is John Austin Fraser. It has been reported that he now resides at a mental hospital, the result of attending a showing of our triple horror program, Orgy of the Living Dead. Because of this tragic event, we the producers have secured an insurance policy insuring the sanity of each and every patron. If you lose your mind as a result of viewing this explosion of terror, you will receive free psychiatric care or be placed at our expense in an asylum for the rest of your life! We urge you to take advantage of this protection! The insurance is free, anyone entering the theater without it does so at his own risk. Remember... WE WARNED YOU!!!

Drive-ins definitely did a lot more huckstering then than they do now, at least for the horror shows!

Here's an ad from 1981 showing the same drive-in after they had added another screen. It was now called the Tucson 5.

Tucson 4 Drive-In

They had added a fifth screen in 1978, prompting the DeAnza folks to add a fourth screen to the DeAnza 3. Ironically, Syufy tore down the Tucson 5 around 1982 and built a 12 screen indoor at that location.


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Last Updated Jan 24, 1999 GWC