Drive-in Movie Theater Stars in Animated Google Doodle


Camden, New Jersey gave birth to the first American drive-in movie theater 79 years ago. In honor of the anniversary of the opening, today you can grab your ticket on Google’s home page and enjoy the worldwide premiere of a new animated Google Doodle.

As you arrive on Google’s home page, you’re greeted by a large Admit One movie ticket. Unless you want to grab a drink and a snack first, you can click on the white triangle and enjoy the show.

Opening of the First Drive-in Theater: 79th Anniversary Edition


Our story begins sometime after twilight at the Google Drive-In Theater sign, which points the way toward the big outdoor screen. As the camera pans right, a late-arriving car pulls into a parking spot.

As the scene continues to pan right, the cricket noises are replaced by the tension-building music from a black and white suspense movie and eventually a scream, all emanating from a lone speaker outside the driver’s side window.


During this transition, the Doodle is shown from the interior of a car (also notice the little Android statue on the dashboard, which appears to be an anachronism). Intermission time means its time for another retro Google logo, this time on the movie screen, where the letters becomes static food cartoon figures – a drink with a straw takes the place of the second “o” while a hot dog serves as the “l” replacing Google’s typical letters.

And what would a movie theater be without a little bit of action in the cars? As the scene continues to pan right, a girl makes the moves on her fella. Next to that, a pair of kids who have apparently snuck in poke their heads up from the back of a pickup truck.


Google’s film climaxes as we reach the snack bar, featuring cotton candy, drinks, popcorn, and a variety of candy treats before a large tub of popcorn (bearing a third Google logo) pops onto the screen. Rather than rolling credits and fading to black, Google redirects you to a search for [opening of the first drive-in theater].

Cast & Credits

The drive-in movie theater Doodle was created by Mike Dutton, whose credits also include the Charlie Chaplin Doodle and first musical Doodle for John Lennon. Dutton conducted a good amount of research, drawing inspiration from a variety of drive-in theaters to create the retro theme of the animation, according to

”Big cultural things set drive-ins apart. For example, no matter how long the movie was, there was always an intermission, time to stretch, get up, get a snack. Another aspect was that it was really popular for people to stow people in their trunk and sneak them into the theater. We didn’t want to endorse it, but we had two kids on the back of their parents’ truck. You see the heads pop out at the end.”

Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. also deserves top billing as the creator of the first theater of its kind. His marketing campaign consisted of letting everyone that “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.”

The first film shown at a drive-in was Adolphe Menjou’s 1932 comedy “Wife Beware”. Although the Camden drive-in theater only lasted three years, the concept spread to other states in the following years, eventually peaking in popularity in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“This may not be our most in-your-face Doodle, but we just kind of want people to sit back and enjoy the show,” Dutton said.

While Google’s drive-in Doodle will likely generate all the buzz today, Google is also using it’s home page to let users know that a little thing called “the next version of the Internet” is beginning to roll out. Yes, today is also World iPv6 launch day.


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