Just last month, The Monetta Drive-In Theatre, or “The Big Mo,” as it has come to be called locally, got some well-deserved national praise from Architectural Digest.
The magazine named the South Carolina theater as one of the 25 most charming drive-ins across the country.
With only about 350 remaining drive-in theaters in the United States, Architectural Digest reporter Kristine Hansen writes that establishments like “The Big Mo” are “quintessential Americana.”
“When it comes to midcentury design, boomerang tables and walnut credenzas get all the love. But what about drive-in movie theaters?” Hansen asks. “Although many succumbed to the popularity of indoor cinemas, followed by the rise of Netflix, about 350 remain in operation today, a steep dive from the 4,000 or so that once served as after-dark entertainment during summer.”
But some of the drive-in theaters are still thriving, much like “The Big Mo.”
“From New York’s Hudson Valley to Southern California, here are 25 of the most charming from coast to coast, folding in ambiance and décor from a bygone era (complete with vintage cars),” Hansen writes. “Bring a soft blanket, lawn chairs and bug spray, plus some cash for popcorn, and you’ve got all the goods for the perfect summer evening.”
As for “The Big Mo,” Hansen describes it as more than just a place to watch movies.
“At Monetta Drive-In Theatre — called “The Big Mo” by locals — you not only get a film but you also can participate in trivia during intermission,” Hansen writes. “Patrons’ birthdays and other celebrations are announced on the big screen, too.”
While receiving national attention from Architectural Digest is a huge honor for the Monetta Drive-In, locals have long loved “The Big Mo,” which was reopened by Linda and Richard Boaz in the late 1990s.
Located less than an hour from Augusta, this much beloved drive-in has won over the hearts of many moviegoers over the years.
Co-owner Linda Boaz and her husband used to go to a drive-in regularly when they lived in
Over the years, they developed a fondness for drive-ins and, when traveling, would always make a point to visit even the ones that had been closed down in other states and cities.
Boaz said her husband came across the abandoned Big Mo — which originally opened in 1951 and closed in 1986 — after he had driven to Aiken on business from the couple’s home in Irmo, S.C.
It was a lot of work to undertake, but the couple managed to clear the tall pine trees that had overgrown the lot and outfit the place with new screens and a rebuilt concession stand.
The Big Mo is an authentic drive-in experience that is hard to find in this day and age.
The drive-in generally offers double features each weekend during the spring, summer and fall for the price of a single movie.
Admission to The Big Mo is $9 per person for ages 12 and over, while children ages 4-11 are $4 each. Children 3 and under are free.
Visitors should also know that cash only is accepted at The Big Mo’s ticket booth and exact change is greatly appreciated.
The drive-in also offers a full-service concession stand featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, corn dogs, popcorn, funnel cakes, snow cones, boiled peanuts, cinnamon-glazed nuts, pizzas, nachos, cotton candy and soft drinks. But no alcohol is allowed at the drive-in.
Credit cards are accepted at the concession stand only.
The Big Mo is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and is occasionally open on Thursdays for the premiere of new movies.
This weekend, the Big Mo will feature “ Ant-Man & The Wasp” and “Incredibles 2” on the main field and “The First Purge” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” on screen 2. Gates open at 7:30 p.m., and movies start about 9 p.m.
To get there, take I-20 East toward Columbia. Take Exit 33 (about 20 minutes past Aiken) and take State Road 39 for seven miles to Monetta. Turn right on U.S. 1. The Big Mo will be on the right side, about a mile down.
Here is basically everything you need to know when visiting The Big Mo:
No refunds once show has begun. No rain checks for bad weather.
No grills, laser pointers, alcohol, illegal substances or glass containers.
One space per vehicle.
Park conversion vans and other high clearance vehicles on the last two rows. Parking attendants have final say on where vehicles should park
Hatches must be no higher than the top of the vehicle.
Don’t sit on top of your vehicle.
Don’t throw balls, frisbees or other objects near the screen tower or front fence.
Keep ticket stub as proof of purchase.
Use parking lights when driving in theater.
Turn off all vehicle lights when parked.
Please use trash cans and vehicle’s ashtrays. Trash bags are available in concession stand.
Wear shoes at all times.
Supervise your children at all times.
Please be courteous to others.
Don’t drive over 5 mph.
Play area is closed during the movie.
No smoking in the concession stand.
The line for admission forms on the south side of the drive-in entrance.
During extremely hot or cold temperatures, if you plan to run your engine during the movie, please park in the rear of the field.
No field switching. Your ticket buys admission to one screen only. You may walk around all three fields before the movies start, but once the movies begin, you must stay on the field for which you hold a ticket.
Plan to arrive 1.5 to 2 hours before showtime during the summer and for blockbuster movies.
For more information about The Big Mo, visit the drive-in’s website at thebigmo.com.