This is Carolina: Woman engineers, builds newest drive-in movie theater ‘like a soup bowl’

This Is Carolina: New Tabor City Drive-In

TABOR CITY, N.C. (WMBF) - A new business has opened a new opportunity for people around the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee.

It’s something you might’ve done growing up, but couldn’t do around the eastern part of South Carolina. But now, you can, because Sherry Barnes has built the country’s newest drive-in movie theater.

Stateline Movie Time is hard to miss off Dothan Road in Tabor City. You won’t find pencil and poodle skirts, and the Camaros and Lincoln Continentals look a bit different nowadays, but the popcorn, the big screen and the hanging in, or on, your car-type of nights exists seven days a week at Barnes’ business.

She said it opened in late May.

“We have a beautiful sunset every day. We even have rainbows that are gorgeous,” Barnes said with a smile. “I cleared all the trees, some guys brought in some dozers and left them but I climbed on it and did it because they weren’t coming back so I learned to run it, and I did it anyway."

She includes a small fireworks show as part of her $10 admission for two movies, and has a firecracker personality herself that’ll keep you on your toes.

“God bless 'em, will pray for 'em anyway. I got it done anyway. No one’s going to change my direction," she said of the contracting company she said didn’t build what it was supposed to.

Barnes said she’s had the land that the theater sits on for 12 years. After a car accident years ago that killed her friend and left her with years of surgeries, she said the drive-in theater came to her in a dream.

“I would’ve never thought of this on my own. If I had, I would’ve done it years ago. But God is a lot smarter than I am," Barnes said.

It’s been almost 90 years since the first drive-in movie theater opened in New Jersey.

Barnes said she had plenty to learn from to design her theatre at the North Carolina-South Carolina state line.

“It’s a bit like a soup bowl. I engineered it that way. So it drains very well, and there’s berms all the way around it. We have people in blankets by the end of the night it is that cool. There’s no bugs because it’s all concrete, there’s no grass for them to lay in," Barnes explained.

Barnes also built the big screen. The property holds a concession stand in the middle with popcorn and sweet treats.

There’s also a shed that houses the heart of the operation, a computer system from Germany, to hold and play Stateline Movie Time’s movies.

“We call it the beast in the she-shed,” Barnes said.

She also has bubbles and games for the kids.

“The happiness of the children. There’s nothing closer to heaven than these children."

It’s a way to enjoy a summer night the American way.

Click here for more information, movie times and details on Stateline Movie Time.

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