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With the recent closure of the Amusement Park Drive-In in Billings, Montana is down to just two drive-in movie theaters.
Montana is sometimes known as “The Last Best Place,” but that name could also apply to the drive-in movie theater: the only place in the world where you can enjoy a movie and a big tub of buttery popcorn while also getting in touch with the great outdoors. Drive-in movie theaters saw a resurgence in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many have closed in recent years.
To help you locate the last best places to see a movie under the stars in your state, car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has created a guide to Montana drive-in theaters: where they are, what you can see, and—of course—what snacks to pair with your night at the movies.
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Silver Bow Twin Drive-In
Address: German Gulch Road, Butte, MT 59750
Schedule: Friday through Sunday, May to September
Ticket prices: $6 for adults, $4 for kids 4 and up (cash only)
Number of screens: 2
Pet-friendly? Yes, but keep them in your vehicle
In 1977, the Hansen family of southwest Montana bought a projection shack and concession stand from a defunct drive-in theater and moved them 40 miles down the road to Butte. The Silver Bow Drive-In, which became the Silver Bow Twin in 1980 when the Hansens installed a second screen, has been operating continuously ever since.
The Silver Bow Drive-In shows recent Hollywood hits, one movie per screen. Check the theater’s website or Facebook page for information about upcoming features.
How to hear the movie
When you get to the drive-in, you can use your car’s radio to tune into the audio for your movie of choice. Each screen has its own FM frequency, so be sure that you’re on the right station for the movie in front of you!
The Silver Bow’s concession stand serves classic movie snacks like popcorn and soda. Stick to the basics with a large buttered popcorn for $5, or go for a 12” Tombstone pizza if you’re feeling extra hungry. In 2020, the drive-in started allowing outside food for a $5 pass.
Address: 582 Old Corvallis Rd, Corvallis, MT 59828
Schedule: 9:30 pm, Thursday through Sunday
Ticket prices: $6 for adults and students, $5 for children 3-10 (extra charge for 3D screenings)
Number of screens: 1
For many small businesses in Montana, the COVID-19 pandemic spelled doom. But Joe and King McLean, the owners of the Pharaohplex Cinema in Corvallis, saw 2020 as a moment of opportunity. When their indoor theater had to pause operations, they constructed an outdoor screen on the side of the building and invited moviegoers to come to the drive-in.
The Pharaohplex Drive-In is an experiment in progress, as its owners adapt to the needs of the community and the demands of the pandemic. You won’t see a double feature here—as Joe and King note on the website, “double features only work down south where it gets dark by 7 pm”!
Instead, the Pharaohplex Drive-In plays a mix of recent releases, classic favorites, and even concerts by popular artists. Check or call ahead to see what’s on offer any given weekend.
How to hear the movie
Tune into 100.9 FM on your car’s radio or a portable FM radio to hear the movie, as well as pre-show announcements and music. The Pharaohplex encourages moviegoers to check their car’s battery before showing up.
Chow down on the Pharaohplex’s legendary buttered popcorn during the feature, or pick between the 9 flavors of soft serve available.
Finding affordable car insurance in Montana
Before you head to the drive-in, make sure your car’s battery is fully charged. While you’re at it, make sure you’re not overpaying for car insurance by using the Jerry app to check for a lower rate.
Jerry’s more than an app. As a licensed broker, Jerry will connect you instantly with quotes from over 50 top companies. Once you choose the rate that works for you, Jerry will handle all the paperwork and cancel your old policy to get you set up with savings. You won’t need to worry about missing out on savings ever again—Jerry can reshop periodically to look for even better deals!
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How many drive-in theaters are left in Montana?
The Amusement Park Drive-In in Billings closed its doors in August 2021, leaving just two drive-in movie theaters in Montana.
Do you have to leave your car on during a drive-in movie?
Not necessarily. In general, it’s a good idea to run your car for a few minutes before the movie begins to give the battery enough of a charge to last through the whole feature. You can also turn your car on briefly from time to time as the movie plays (or at intermission, if you’re seeing a double feature).
Do drive-ins play in the rain?
One of the beauties of the drive-in theater is that you can watch the movie from inside your car even in the rain! Most drive-ins won’t close for bad weather, but if you’re looking at a particularly severe storm it’s a good idea to call ahead.