Elm Road Theatre still thriving, celebrates Wicked Weekend

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WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trick-or-treating and scary movies.

The Elm Road Drive-In Theatre’s Wicked Weekend — which took place Friday and Saturday — is one of its biggest annual celebrations.

“It just brings back all of the memories from when I was a kid,” said Phillis Elliot of Port Clinton. “We just love coming.”

Events like these keep the family-ran theater in Warren busy throughout fall when school and sports go back in session.

“The prices are fair and it’s something you can do with family and friends and enjoy,” said Warren native Amy Maloney.

The drive-in first opened in 1950 with one screen. Now 66 years later, the triple-screen drive-in is still owned and operated by the same family that started it all.

Sheri Hocevar, granddaughter of the original owner, is now the manager and operator with her husband Mark.

“We’re very busy with the seven-days-a-week, but the drive-in poses a lot of challenges too,” Sheri said. “That’s why there’s not very many left.”

The Elm Road Drive-In is one of more than 4,000 drive-ins built in the U.S. during the hey-days. Now there’s only about 400.

Competing with multi-theater indoor complexes and services like Netflix can be a challenge.

“We can only show movies at night as opposed to the indoors that can show them all day long,” Mark Hocevar said. “So during that 120-day season, we have to do everything we can to make it.”

The movie studios take a large percentage of the revenue from ticket sales. So the theater has to rely on concessions to make most of the money.

The mild winter this year allowed them to open earlier, which really helped out business.

“You’ve gotta watch your expenses and maintain that revenue stream,” Mark Hocevar said. “We also rely heavily on the nostalgia of the business. It’s a unique venue.”

New digital projectors and an updated menu bring the experience up to modern times.

The theater will stay open on weekends this fall for as long as the weather stays warm.

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