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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 13, 2001

Screens come down at old Kam Drive-In

By Jessica Webster
Advertiser Staff Writer

Workers bring down one of the drive-in's two big screens. Kam Drive-In opened in 1962; before closing 36 years later, it was the sole survivor among several Island drive-ins that had been been shut down.
Timothy In photos
No more flicks. And now, no more screens.

The historic Kam Drive-In movie theater screens near Pearlridge Center were taken down yesterday to the disappointment of a few residents who harbor nostalgia for Hawai'i's last drive-in.

"We're really sad to see it go because it's a landmark," said nearby resident Eve Colton In. "We used to watch movies from the parking spot in front of our house. We hope a shopping center isn't built there, but a park would be nice."

Kam Drive-In opened in 1962, and Consolidated Amusement Co. shut it down on Sept. 7, 1998, because of a lack of business.

Telephone calls to Consolidated Amusement officials for comment on the removal of the screens were not returned yesterday.

At the height of the theater's popularity, families would pile into cars and drive to the theater where they could spread out dinner and snacks on a blanket.

When business started to falter, Consolidated executives discussed various strategies to cut costs.

In 1997, Consolidated attempted to save the theater by peeling back daily movie nights to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and most holidays.

For $5 per car, customers could sometimes see two movies. This was at a time when movie theaters were charging $6.50 a ticket. But the measures didn't help.

The death of Kam Drive-In followed the closures of Kapi'olani, Sunset, Wai'alae and Kailua drive-ins.

Consolidated still runs a swap meet on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays in the space, and has an agreement to lease the land from Bishop Estate until 2016.

The company has operated the Super Swap Meet at the Kam Drive-In site for 35 years.