Opened: December 1962
Location: Tulip Street Sandringham
Capacity: 990 Cars
Operator: Sandringham Drive-in Theatre P/L – Mark Josen
Sandringham never did anything by halves. Fondly remembered by Melbourne’s bayside community, it was Melbourne’s only true independent drive-in during the 1970’s and 1980’s and one of the biggest. Most major Australian drive-ins were ultimately taken over by one of the large chains – Village, Hoyts, Greater Union, BCC, Wallis, Ace etc. Sandringham was built and run by a quartet of businessmen, Mark Josen, Sam Alonni, George Hardwicke and Harry Halperin.
A gala invitational affair with a preview screening of “Devil At 4 O’Clock” entertained the over 1,000 guests in attendance at the opening. The drive-in was built in the then record time of 12 weeks from start to finish. The screen was 115 feet wide and the projection booth was equipped with Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 (RK60) projectors capable of screening 70mm film. The drive-in’s construction attracted much media attention from TV, radio, press and national coverage through Cinesound Newsreel. What brought the media to the now almost monthly occurrence of a drive-in opening, was the three Christmas trees mounted in position at the top of the screen by a helicopter.
By the early 1980’s hard times were upon all drive-ins and Sandringham was no exception. A clever plan was hatched to bring in some additional income whilst keeping the drive-in open. Almost half the property was sold off to commercial developers. This required the removal of the original screen and the erection of a much smaller screen a few hundred feet to the south. Never mind that the ramps, snack bar or projection room were not now correctly aligned to the screen, the product shown was mostly “R” rated sex and horror common to grind houses and drive-ins on hard times.