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Movies under the stars

By Dana Smith

Feature Editor

There’s no such thing as having to turn off your cell phone, sit upright without kicking the back of someone’s chair, or even keeping comments to yourself at a drive-in movie theater.

Some residents of Tyler, Texas don’t know or have never stopped by the drive-in movie theater, located off of Hwy 69, 4 miles away from Loop 323.

Just on the side of the highway sits a small sign that reads “Skyvue” next to the Tyler Market Center.  After turning in, a ticket booth is set on the left, where the ticket vendor will then ask how many tickets will be needed for the night.

Once tickets are paid for, vehicles proceed through the trail to find a parking spot (of their choice) on the lawn. The lawn has a wide screen; surrounded by parked cars, open trunks and snuggled families.

Skyvue Drive-in Theater is a family-owned business that has been around for six years.

Robert Philips, the owner’s son and also, alumni of Tyler Junior College, is currently the manager of Skyvue. He works alongside his wife and mother.

Philips and his family decided to make this theatre, “Because there was nothing else to do.”

Before, Tyler didn’t offer many things to do as far as something fun. But over the years, the town has progressed with a lot more options including the Skyvue Drive-in Theater.

Skyvue displays movies through one projector that is 85 feet. Customers have the choice of sitting outside their cars or even tuning in through the radio on 96.9 FM.

With film becoming a thing of the past, Philips plans to work harder to be able to buy a new digital projector. Customers can also lend a helping hand by putting coins in the bucket located inside the concession stand.

“The other places that have a big company … they charge higher prices for stuff and have extra money to spend on things and when they needed that digital projector they just went and bought one,” said Philips. “I don’t charge enough money for tickets to make that possible, because I’m trying to provide a good value.”

Unlike other theaters, Skyvue prices are much cheaper and do not change depending on the time of day.

The theater is only open after dark, prices are set and have no discounts. Prices are only $6 for adults, $4 for children 5-11, and free for infants and toddlers. Customers also get the opportunity to watch two movies, for only $6, or may leave after the first movie has been shown.

Many people complain about certain regulations that indoor movie theaters have, but with the drive-in, people are much more satisfied.

“I truly enjoy this theater because you can do the volume either louder or lighter if you want to, and I can bring my kids with me if I want to,” said Kristen Rogers, a resident of Van. “At a regular theater you have more of a chance of running into someone that is real rude. Here, you know it’s real family-oriented, and I just love it.”

Rogers attends once or twice a month, and prefers the drive-in rather than a regular movie theater.

“I think it’s a great place to go, it’s very fun,” said Grace Johnson, a faculty member at TJC. “It’s more so exciting than going to your regular theater because it’s a whole new experience you’re not use to.”

Johnson said that the theater could be fun for anyone, and for first-timers, depending on the weather, people should bring blankets and bundle up in the car.

Skyvue Drive-in Theater is usually busiest around the months of November and December due to the fact that many movie sequels come out during that time.

On a typical night at the Skyvue, at least 60 cars will fill up the lawn. The theater has reached a capacity of 700 cars in the month of June.

The ticket booth opens around 6 p.m. every night but is closed on Thursdays. Movies begin according to the times posted on the website.

Skyvue is located Northwest of Loop 323.

For more information visit http://www.tylerdrivein.com.


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