Source: Joe Camfield
I managed the Vista Drive in from August 1974 to September 1976 for Butterfield Theatres, Inc. then headquartered in Detroit, now Monroe Michigan. In those days we transformed the Vista from a declining attendance to an exciting venue by introducing WLAV dollar night and running first-run films like "Jaws", "White Line Fever" "Bugs Bunny Superstar" on dollar nights.
On one such night we filled the house to capacity on a Tuesday night with over 1,000 autos jammed onto the lot. Working with the booking department I convinced the company to send us first-run features from the old Eastbrook after Jack McCarthy (our manager there) was finished with them and before they would be released for other companies to bid again on them. We were able to bring such hits as "Blazing Saddles" and "Chinatown" to the Vista early in my management tenure reversing a trend toward exploitation and "sexploitation" movies that had become standard drive-in fare.
I explained to the office that the facility was too good for those kinds of films and was able to reduce such showing to a minimum and bring more critically acclaimed entertainment to the west side of town. Over the two years I was there, the Vista began to return to her old glory. I was given a great deal of discretion by Butterfield to run the theatre, having been given control, within budgets, of personnel, policy and advertising and promotions. It was a great training ground for a young manager. I miss the place. Later, after the theatre was closed, I worked for a few weeks stripping the facility of speakers and post heads and removing over 1,000 speaker posts from the ground. Over the years I watched the old lady age, and lamented her passing.
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