112 Drive-In inches toward final screenings

The end of an era is nearing for a Fayetteville institution as the 112 Drive-In prepares for its final two weekends of operation.

The venerable institution will screen movies for the final times this weekend and next before shutting down for good.

In its place will stand an up-scale housing and retail development that contains preliminary plans for a theater also outfitted with a smaller outdoor screen.

Even if that aspect of the development eventually does see fruition, it just won’t be the same.

Now, I would be disingenuous if I implied that I am a great patron of the 112 Drive-In in recent years. I haven’t been. The last time I went might have been before the turn of the century.

I did try with a group of friends during the height of the pandemic in the summer of 2020 when all other theaters were closed, but we arrived too late. The show was sold out.

My last distinct memory of attending a movie there was probably from the early summer of 1994 when the blockbuster “Jurassic Park” was playing nearly a year into its theatrical run. Yeah, I’m old.

However, I do have fond memories of frequenting the venue during my college years at the University of Arkansas in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I had never gone to a drive-in movie before moving from West Memphis to Fayetteville, although a couple of drive-ins were still operating in Memphis at the time.

Oh well, enough reminiscing. This weekend the drive-in programer has a fanciful and fun tornadic double feature of “The Wizard of Oz” from 1939 starring the great Judy Garland and “Twister” from 1996 with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. That’s a great pairing.

The final films to play at the drive-in on Aug. 26 and 27 will be “Grease” from 1978 and “Footloose” from 1984, another great pairing of teen-oriented musical films distinctly set in different eras.

Had I been programming, I might have tried to play the 1971, Peter Bogdanovich-directed, R-rated drama “The Last Picture Show” just to be corny. I might have paired it with “Hollywood Knights,” a hilarious but raunchy 1980 comedy about the closing of a different type of drive-in.

However, the choices made are more appropriate, more family friendly, and a great deal more celebrative.

The 112 Drive-In begins selling tickets around 6 p.m. with the double feature starting at 8:45 p.m. the next two Friday and Saturday nights.

I’d suggest getting there early because I’m guessing many folks are planning to attend to say some sentimental goodbyes to a Fayetteville institution.