Port Vila Drive-in 


Opened: 1978
Location: Near the site of the current Talimoru Hotel
Capacity: ?
Screens: 1
Facilities: Snack Bar (which apparently served really nice donuts!)
Operator: Mr & Mrs N. Smith (An Australian couple from Melbourne), Mr Vinh Van Tho of the Hotel Santo.
Closed: 4 April 1985

Brief history:

Closure announcement in the Vanuatu Weekly Hebdomadaire

Translation: The capital's [Port Vila] Drive-in cinema did its last show on the 4th April [1985]. From last week it has closed forever due to poor business. It is the second in the Pacific after New Caledonia. It opened in 1978 and has had many different owners according to the last owner Mr vinh Van Tho of the Hotel Santo.

Thanks to Peter Murgatroyd for the above article.

Anyone got more history?


Bit more to add to the Vila drive-in history.  Yes it was such a wonderful novelty for a while there.  My husband made a formica rain-catcher, or rain diverter, which we would attach above the windscreen so as to watch movies without the wipers going all night and a flat battery later.   I reckon it would've been more like about 1978 or 79 when it started.   And then, after a while, they brought in a doughnut machine.  We went just for the doughnuts or donuts!   With the introduction of video about 4 or 5 years later, the business soon died.

Regular movies were shown, no sub titles much to the disappointment of Janet (Bunyan) whose family would be able to see the screen from their flat in the Talimoru building!

Thanks to Joy for the above memories

I was a small kid then when that cinema was around, used to be a big entertainment. The Drive-in cinema was located at sea-side area, [next to] where the Talimoru hotel is now. About 1 minute drive from the CBD. The big screen used to be just downhill from the new museum. I think it must have been set up prior to the 1970s, was around till around 1983 or something. One big screen, a size of more or less twice that of Cine Hickson, maybe 10 X 5 metres in size, quite big actually. Most probably would accommodate not more than 60-80 cars, it had stationed speakers in place the open space so one would just take the speaker inside the car. There would be a big fence to prevent outsiders from watching, I remember that did'nt work so well as the fence was often pulled down by some to get a good vantage of the movie. There was a snack bar of course, hamburger, coke, ice cream typical movie snacks. The drive-in cinema was actually owned by an expat couple.  I would'nt know if they took over from a previous owner.
The movie ticket was sold on per car basis, something like 200vt per car. If am right I recalled it showed 3 times per week given the relatively small size of the market in those days.

Thanks to Blac for the above memories

Pour peu  que je me souvienne, il était toujours ouvert début 1984.  Je me souviens y avoir vu des
films en v.o. française et anglaise.  Pour les sous-titres, je ne me souviens pas. Nous y allions
avec les enfants et nous "régalions" des friandises ou locales ou australiennes.  Les haut-parleurs étaient d'un vieux modèle, du type que l'on pend à la glace du côté du conducteur.  C'`tait certainement le seul cinéma en plein air à Vila et sans an avoir des souvenirs précis, je crois qu'il n'était ouvert que du jeudi au dimanche.  Je me souviens par contre qu'il n'était pas très loin de l'une des prisons et d'un
restaurant chinois!

English translation

From the little that I remember, it was opened at the beginning of 1984. I remember having seen French and English films there. As far as subtitles go, I do not remember. We went there with the children and we "munched on" Australian or local delicacies. The loudspeakers were of an old  type that hung on the drivers side of the car.  It was certainly the only cinema in the open air in Vila and although I don't recall precisely, I believe that it was open only Thursday to Sunday. I remember on the other hand that it was not very far from one of the prisons and a Chinese restaurant!

Thanks to François Cote for the above memories


All these years later in the cold of the UK Winter I remember as vividly as yesterday being a young child seeing Network with Faye Dunaway and a strange adult film about Amazonian women at the Drive In - it was in 1977 or 1978. My mum (with some consternation) allowed us to sit through Network (which had a significant amount of bad language) but the nudity was too much and we left half way through the Amazon film! I can only have been 9 or 10! I remember the big metal speaker on a wire that hung through the window of our green Peugeot (504?) and thinking the whole thing was terribly exciting. You have  brought the memories of Vila flooding back - it was Paradise and a time so full of happiness. I lived in Vila with our family for nearly three years. I also have memories of the Beeezer, the Inter Continental wehere we water skied, black sand beach, the Britsih School (it took me 6 months before I wisely relinquished foootwear and socks altogether), the amazing library where, without TV I devoured every book in sight including a fair amount of woomen's fiction (Anya Seaton novels!!!!!) and lovely, inspirational smiling people. One day I shall go back...

Thanks to Jonathan Stoot for the above memories.

Does anybody have any further information or photos of the Port Vila Drive-in? If so, please email Peter Berrett at p.berrett@optusnet.com.au    Contributions will be gratefully acknowledged.


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