I stumbled upon this picture of Drake Theater in Wilson from the 1960’s while researching an earlier blog post. It was one of the few grindhouse theaters in NC (I read that there was another one in Kinston called the Paramount). What was a grindhouse theater? It was a theater that mostly played B movies. Think exploitation films (sex, violence and romance).
According to historian David Church, this theater type was named after the “grind policy,” a film-programming strategy dating back to the early 1920s, which offered continuous showings of films at cut-rate ticket prices that typically rose over the course of each day. This exhibition practice was markedly different from the era’s more common exhibition practice of fewer shows per day and graduated pricing for different seating sections of large urban theaters. (David Church, “From Exhibition to Genre: The Case of Grind-House Films,” Cinema Journal, vol. 50, no. 4 (2011): https://www.academia.edu/6632128/From_Exhibition_to_Genre_The_Case_of_Grind-House_Films. Also see David Church, Grindhouse Nostalgia: Memory, Home Video, and Exploitation Film Fandom (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015).
The Drake was originally the Carolina Theater which opened in 1930 but became that Drake Theater in ca. 1943. The Drake came to an end in the mid 1970’s after becoming more of a XXX theater.