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Fri Nov 28 16:27:48 CAT 2014

Lights out for drive-in

Sipho Masombuka | 20 February, 2014 00:55
ROLL THE CREDITS: Menlyn Park's drive-in, the last in the country, will close at the end of February.
Image by: PETRI OOSTHUIZEN

For the past 14 years, the drive-in movie theatre at Pretoria's Menlyn Park shopping centre has been a favourite spot for popping the question: "Will you marry me?"

Sadly, the drive-in - the very last of its kind in South Africa - will project its last reel on February 28..

In October 2000, the drive-in became the first to be erected on the rooftop of a shopping mall. Since then hundreds of thousands have flocked there to watch a movie or two in the parking lot under the city's night sky.

Andrea de Wit, the shopping centre's marketing manager, said: "We have had a very steady run of marriage proposals up on that roof.

"We probably get at least one request a month for our help in creating the perfect setting for some very nervous bloke to pop the question."

The first film shown at the theatre was Bless the Child, a horror movie starring Kim Basinger. There were 75 cars hooked up to the sound system.

The drive-in became the last of its kind in South Africa after the Velskoen, in Randburg, closed in June 2012.

With more and more movies being released in digital format, said De Wit, the 35mm film reels the drive-in used became increasingly scarce .

"Many South Africans have fond memories of how, as children, they waited for the sun to set on Friday evenings so they could go to the drive-in," De Wit said.

The last screening at the historic entertainment venue will be between February 21 and February 28 with the free showing of Gravity and We Are the Millers.

"We are expecting large numbers and spots will be allocated first-come-first-served," she said.

She said many patrons were sad to see the drive-in close, and that Pretorians were as proud and passionate about the drive-in as they were about the shopping complex.

"By far, the most prevalent response is that they would love to bring their children to experience the drive-in before its closure," she said.

So, what will become of the space the drive-in will no longer occupy?

"We have great plans for that space and will soon be bringing out another unique entertainment offering," De Wit said.

The drive-in screened 8736 shows during its 14 years of existence .

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