The Sunset Drive In, Off of Isleta and Arenal, in the South Valley, may very well be the only nearly intact drive-in left in the duke city area (I hear there is one working one up in Farmington, and a few other places.)

Perhaps its just Nostalgia, but I remember some pretty good times as a kid going to a drive in and watching a double feature! I'm pretty sure thats how I caught the Return of the Jedi, I think thats where I caught back to the future too, sure the sound sometimes cutout, and being cramped in a car with your sister is probably toxic to 8 year old boys! But toxic or not I thought it was pretty cool!

So when I found what looked like a still standing drive in urban abandonment (one of my big hobbies if you had not noticed is poking around at the archeology of our recent past) on google maps, I just knew i had to go see it for my self.

And See it I did, It looks like aside from missing the speaker boxes, and having the projectionist's booth boarded up, and some tree overgrowth, its like a time capsule, the screen is still in great condition, the lot looks like its mowed, the projectionist booth/concessions/bathroom all look to be in good condition, (the ticket booth is collapsing), lots of evidence of homeless camping all around the outside of the fence line, but inside looks pretty good aside from a little graffiti on the back side of the screen.

Its gated off and fenced, And somebody appears to be living/groundskeeping the place from a little trailer. So I stayed outside and walked around it. (careful there are some spots with loose barb wire in the grass)

Photos of it can be seen here!
Flickr photos

It would be neat if somebody in the art/film scene could get permission to setup a nice digital projector and a low power FM broadcaster, and have some local films shown on the really big screen!

The property taxes are paid up by a trustee of a living trust, I suspect they would be the ones to contact if somebody had the resources and connections to try and make a gorilla art film fest of it.

460 ASH ST

abq_urbex Livejournal blog post I made last night, contains much of the information above but also another persons blog post aobut it from a few years back.

Views: 299

Comment by NxDLamb on May 22, 2008 at 12:03pm
I actually grew up about 1/4 mile from the Sunset. As a kid, i used to sit on the roof of the house and watch the movies showing, with no sound of course. I had seen a few movies actually at the Sunset but have very few memories. in fact the only movies i remember seeing there was a cheech n chong double feature and i think one of the friday the 13th movies. (was way too young for most were double features though. i do miss drive-ins. we used to go to the Albuquerque 6 alot, too. Last summer, we drove down to Carlsbad to see the caverns and was able to catch the last Pirates of the Caribbean at the drive-in down there.
Comment by typography mon amour on May 22, 2008 at 12:04pm
I have fond memories of the drive-in in Santa Fe during my childhood. My parents would bring us in our jammies and hope that we'd just sleep in the backseat, but I ended up sneaking a peek at stuff I probably should have not seen. In high school (late eighties), Albuquerque had a drive in near where the giant 24 movie theatre is (I think) on the frontage road. Lots of drinking and making out was done. Good times. I've actually asked around to local film people last summer if they have done or could do a drive-in. I think it was the curio people downtown, perhaps collaborating with basement films, can't quite remember, that had a guerilla drive in, but I think it was a singular event. It is an excellent idea.
Comment by typography mon amour on May 22, 2008 at 12:06pm
BTW, Interesting photos. Thanks!
Comment by NxDLamb on May 22, 2008 at 12:10pm
Yeah, it was the Albuquerque 6 that was where Century 24 or Cinemark 24 is now, whatever it's called now. They had 6 screens, all were double feature. and a complete concessions building smack in the middle, with a playground too.
Comment by mombat on May 22, 2008 at 12:12pm
That drive-in was still in operation in the late 1980's. I am not sure when it closed. There was a proposal a few years ago to development it as housing, but I think that fell through.
Good luck on the film festival.
Comment by misterhinkydink on May 22, 2008 at 12:12pm
Last weekend, 'Lilies of the Field' was on TCM and it reminded me of when I saw it at the drive-in in 1964-5? at a drive-in around Plano, TX. I remember the Pueblo in SF looking operational in 1993. Here's a good drive-in site.
Comment by misterhinkydink on May 22, 2008 at 12:17pm
Correction, it was 'The Yucca' I remember in SF.
Comment by Ryan Martin Stark on May 22, 2008 at 12:26pm
As of a couple of years ago, Las Vegas (New Mexico, not Nevada) still had a drive-in going. It's just outside of town, on the highway to Storie Lake. My wife (a South Valley native who grew up just down the street from the Sunset) and I have lamented that we can't take our 2-year-old to the drive-in as each of our parents did with us. I remember seeing some great films at drive-ins (Pete's Dragon, the 1976 version of King Kong, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Wrath of Khan, et al)...a revival of the drive-in would be great!
Comment by NxDLamb on May 22, 2008 at 12:32pm
very much agreed.... which is why i made a point to take my 8 and 6 year old to see Pirates when we were in Carlsbad. I wanted them to have the experience. something cool about watching a movie outside under a clear, starry sky.
Comment by Izquierdo on May 22, 2008 at 9:18pm
The Sunset was the closest drive-in to my home, the first I was ever at, I believe. I saw Rhonda Fleming there in "Slightly Scarlet," maybe my first movie ever in a drive-in.


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