Last Eastern Washington drive-in theater closing down

Published On: Apr 22 2013 08:22:46 PM PDT   Updated On: Apr 23 2013 10:33:45 AM PDT
COLVILLE, Wash. -

It's a tradition for many movie goers, but after this summer finding a drive-in movie theater may be near impossible.

You'll find it around the bend, up the gravel drive and on a large grassy field. It's the last drive-in movie theater in Eastern Washington.

"I'm third generation. My grandfather actually taught me how to be a projectionist when I was 13," said Auto Vue Drive-in Theater owner Steve Wisner.

The Auto Vue has been a Colville staple for decades with Wisner's parents buying the lot back in 1974. For some it's a tradition, a right of passage. For others it's sacred ground.

"And everybody that grew up here, grew up here in this little drive-in. Or was conceived here. It's hard to say," said a laughing Wisner.

The theater looks a little rough around the edges and it seems every season the weather and vandals beat it up a little more.

"Three years in a row. Nothing like breaking windows," said Wisner.

Soon, the decades of history will end. 

"This place is going to be ending on it's 60th anniversary," said Wisner.

One of the main reasons why Auto Vue is closing down is that films aren't being made anymore. Almost everything is digital, and replacing a 35mm projector isn't something Wisner can handle.

"$94 thousand for the screen and $82 thousand for the digital," said Wisner.

Once the drive-in closes, Wisner says he plans to use the land for growing hops for beer.