Drake Grindhouse Theater

drake theater

I found this image on Flickr (link at end of post). There were also images of other theaters in NC from the 60’s-80’s. I definitely spent a lot of time at the Charlotte theaters displayed on the page.

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.

Here is a link to an article on the theater and a link to the Flickr page that I found the image.

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3 thoughts on “Drake Grindhouse Theater

  1. I guess this is why I don’t remember the Drake AT ALL, though I was early movie-going age when it closed. I do remember the Colony and of course the Wilson (at which I watched Disney classics like “Song of the the South” before it, too, went blue.)

    • “Song of the South” was a crazy movie. I guess they re-released the movie in the 70’s, I had a 45 rpm with a storybook from it. I has definitely been buried by the Disney company for obvious reasons. There is a weird website dedicated to it and here is a link to the website’s defense of the movie http://www.songofthesouth.net/index.php
      I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

      • This website is possibly more frightening than the movie. I only vaguely remember it; I must have been 5 or 6. Maybe an anniversary re-release? I definitely had the LP though — “Zip A Dee Doo Dah!” The movie’s certainly racist. It was filmed in 1946 and is in no way progressive. However, I loved Uncle Remus and his trickster tales, and I think I’d enjoy watching it again. Even with heavy side eye.

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