Sunset Drive-In Theater
Helena's First drive-in, 1949


Operated by E. R. "Chub" Munger (1900-1999), the Sunset opened on July 12, 1949. It was located on the southwest corner of N. Montana Ave. at Custer, on land purchased from St. Joseph's Orphanage, which was located across the road.


 


The Sunset announced its new wider CinemaScope screen in 1955. Also in that year, plans were made public to build an 850-seat indoor theatre adjacent to the drive-in. That theatre was never built (see this site's feature "Two Theatres That Never Were" ).


The Site of the Sunset



Two Views of the Sunset, May 1962
Many thanks to Darcy O'Dell


COURTESY OF DARCY O'DELL

The entrance of the Sunset Drive-In Theatre, seen from Montana Avenue, May 1962. Note the Montana National Guard tank parked beside the theater driveway. It was a promotion for the movie "Armored Command", which was coming to the theatre.

 

 

Sunset Theatre Entrance, May 1962


COURTESY OF DARCY O'DELL • CLICK IMAGE FOR A BIG VIEW IN A NEW WINDOW

Theatre owner E. R. "Chub" Munger lived in the large house on the left side of the photo.

A bit of non-theatre photo trivia: the "Truck Route Detour" sign was in place because of the construction of a new overpass over the Great Northern Tracks on Lyndale Ave. That overpass, and the older one adjacent to it, have now been demolished.

 



The Derelict Screen of the Sunset Drive-in Theatre, 1970s

 


Western-themed Snack Bar Ad

 

One of Helena's two drive-in theatres played this western-themed snack bar advertisement, but your editor can't recall which one it was. If anyone remembers, please drop me a line.


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