Cinema 66 Drive-In

6066 NE Grand Boulevard,
Oklahoma City, OK 73111

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Gulf States Theaters

Previous Names: N. Eastern 66 Drive-In, N.E. Route 66 Drive-In

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Cinema 66 Drive-In

The N. Eastern 66 Drive-In was opened August 4, 1950 with Coleen Gray in “Father is a Bachelor” and “The Palomino”. It was operated by R. Lewis Barton from 1951 and was renamed N.E. Route 66 Drive-In and finally Cinema 66 Drive-In. It had a capacity for 600 cars. It was closed on May 31, 1968.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Wonder in the late fifties if it under went a name change.Have a N.Eastern Drive-in parking 600 cars in that city?

whorton on July 14, 2012 at 7:39 am

From the AIDA database:

Cinema “66” Also known as “NE 66”

Location originally listed as 5801 N. Eastern (Aerial photos from 1970 show the entrance to have been off of Grand Blvd.)

Capacity: About 600

Opening date: Friday Aug 6, 1950

Opening Billing: Father is a Bachelor with Coleen Gray, and The Palomino

Closing date: Did not reopen for the 68 season. Built by: Leo Thomas and sold to R.L. Barton about 1964.

The remnants of this theater may still be seen (at least the ticket box office) from Grand Blvd. between Eastern and 63rd. Aerial photos show the entrance to be in the 5800 block and the area is very overgrown with lots of poison ivy. The theater was located in a unique section of town which was not very fashionable. The city has evolved except for a small area around where the drive-in was located. Some of the peripheral lot lights are still present in the densely packed wooded area. They hang as if they eternally doomed to guard the long since dead drive in.

A long forgotten memo from Louis Spagna (General manager of Greater Oklahoma City Amusements to R. Lewis Barton dated March 10, 1971 reads:

As you know, the Cinema 66, which is included in the operating agreement with Gulf States theaters, has been virtually abandoned and its condition has deteriorated terribly.

We have been approached recently by an operator of adult motion pictures and have received an offer to lease this particular providing it can be released from the operating agreement with Gulf States Theaters.

We believe the policy Gulf States has adopted for the 66 is a serious violation of the operating agreement. It is also apparent that they do not intend to reopen this theater; therefore, it would appear to be in everyone’s best interest if Gulf States were to restore the theater to its prior condition and release it from the operating agreement.

Wesley Horton AIDA

jwmovies on September 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Approx. address for this drive-in was 6066 NE Grand Blvd.

rivest266 on August 21, 2018 at 1:38 pm

This opened on August 6th, 1950. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

MichaelKilgore on May 20, 2019 at 2:02 pm

From the Aug. 7, 1954 Motion Picture Herald: “NE ‘66’ drive-in theatre, Oklahoma City, has installed a giant screen for CinemaScope pictures.”

MichaelKilgore on July 17, 2019 at 7:13 am

The NE 66 changed to simply 66 (not Route 66) in 1962, then to the Cinema 66 in 1964. It was still active in May 1968, but the Barton chain was sold in June 1968 to Ferris Enterprises, which immediately closed the Cinema 66. Its final ad was May 31, 1968. The following week, the ad said “Closed for remodeling. Watch for re-opening later this summer!”

MichaelKilgore on October 8, 2021 at 9:10 pm

I just noticed a weird little detail in the Motion Picture Almanac listings for this place, besides the face that it called it just the “N. Eastern Drive-In” without the 66. From its first appearance in the 1951-52 edition, its owner was always listed as R. L. Barton. The Barton Theatres circuit list entry also included the “N. E. 66 Drive-In” beginning with the 1955 edition.

From the Daily Oklahoman’s perspective, the drive-in’s changed from “The new N. Eastern ‘66’” independent ad through the 1952 season to “NE ‘66’” within the Barton Theatres ad in 1953.

On the other hand, Lydia May Thomas’s obit mentioned that she and husband Leo Herbert built and operated the drive-in and the adjacent bowling center, which was announced in 1958. Leo’s obit said that the couple operated the drive-in “for eleven years.” That would line up with when its name changed to just 66.

So maybe the Thomases ran the NE 66 for Barton for several years starting in 1953?

MichaelKilgore on October 11, 2021 at 6:02 pm

The Thomases built the N'Eastern 66, I think, and they managed the place for years, but I also think they must have sold or leased it to the Barton theater chain very early on.

Motion Picture Herald, March 10, 1951: “Three of the Barton Drive-In Theatres were formally opened March 1. They are the Air Line drive-in, N. Eastern 66 drive-in, and Barton’s 77 drive-in.”

MichaelKilgore on January 13, 2022 at 6:08 pm

Wesley Horton is right again. The N'Eastern opened on the first Friday in August 1950. He only mistyped the number - it was August 4, 1950.

The N'Eastern ad the day before said it would open on Friday. And then…

N'Eastern Drive-In grand opening (earlier)N'Eastern Drive-In grand opening (earlier) 04 Aug 1950, Fri The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)

Confusing for the future researcher, the N'Eastern ran the same ad on Saturday, Aug. 5. From Aug. 6 through at least the 20th, its ad said it was “Open Tonite”; one of those is in the photo section.

Kenmore on May 28, 2023 at 11:39 am

A 1969 aerial shows the drive-in intact, but by 1975 the screen had been torn down. By 1981, the projection booth/concession stand was gone.

Today, it is an overgrown field with remnants of the projection booth/concession stand and the foundation of the screen remaining.

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