Famous drive-in resurrects a retro '90s theater on Austin's East Side
Many old-school Austinites — or at least those who’ve been around for 14 years — think fondly of the Blue Starlite Drive-in, which after ups and downs, openings, closures, and special events, is still kicking.
The mini urban drive-in, which pairs a good dose of nostalgia with the creature comforts of modern amenities, is embarking on an exciting new venture with the Millennium Entertainment Complex, located at 1156 Hargrave St. at Rosewood Avenue.
This collaboration, aptly named the Eastside Cinema at the Millennium, is set to revive the cinematic experience at the old venue’s out-of-service movie theater, with a series of preview nights beginning on December 17, leading into a monthly residency. The inaugural night will feature the premiere of Beyoncé's Renaissance, along with an apparently much-loved, but undisclosed holiday classic film. The official grand opening is set for January 2024.
"I knew there was a cinema there. I just didn’t know its condition,” said Blue Starlite creator Josh Frank in a press release. “Finally I was able to get a look and it was in perfect condition. Like it was teleported in time from 1999 to today. I couldn’t let another year go by with this place that I knew existed and was just sitting there not being used.”
The official grand opening is set for January 2024.Eastside Cinema at the Millennium/eastsidecinema.com
The Millennium came about through a collaboration between the Housing Authority of the City of Austin and the Austin Rosewood Community Development Corporation. After some years spent defunct after tech and pandemic woes, it now continues to function as a youth gathering space and possesses what a press release from Blue Starlite calls East Austin’s only indoor cinema — naturally, the nostalgic drive-in has been charmed.
The intention is to provide a haven for local film clubs and foundations in a 100-plus-seat movie theater, featuring the latest in visual and sound technology despite the ‘90s appearance. Blue Starlite will oversee the creative and technical operations inside the 55,000-square-foot entertainment complex, which also includes a bowling alley, basketball court, roller rink, video arcade, and food court, making it a hub for community engagement in a part of Austin that always seems to be modernizing — for better or for worse.
The complex includes a bowling alley and more.Eastside Cinema at the Millennium/eastsidecinema.com
“For years folks have come over to the East Side for Blue Starlite’s Drive-in experience, and now as well the East Side will have its own proper indoor neighborhood cinema,” said Frank. “I can’t wait to see what folks do with what we have put together to give their ideas a home.”
The collaboration between Blue Starlite and The Millennium promises to bring a cinematic renaissance to Austin's East Side — and as the saying goes: It’s a vibe. For tickets and information, visit eastsidecinema.com.