Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

Southern California Loses Another Historic Drive-In Movie Theatre: The Mission Tiki

A film is projected onto large outdoor screen with rows of cars facing the action.
Mission Tiki, which opened in 1956, is closing down. Here in 2020 patron enjoyed a surprise screening of "Bill & Ted Face The Music."
(Amy Sussman
Getty Images for Orion Pictures)
We need to hear from you.
Today during our spring member drive, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

The screens have gone dark at Montclair’s Mission Tiki Drive-in.

When it opened in 1956, Mission Tiki had a lot of competition: names like Paramount Drive-in, The Roadium in Torrance, and Vineland in the City of Industry were already well-known. But Mission Tiki offered something a little different:

“It was more than just a drive-in [where you] sit there and watch a movie,” says mid-century pop-culture expert Charles Phoenix.

“It was ambiance. It was style. It was mid-century modern. It was so many things, but I'm surprised it lasted this long.”

Support for LAist comes from

Mission Tiki managed to outlive many competitors, but there’s no escaping progress.

Like all land in Southern California, Mission Tiki’s property increased in value over the years. In 2019, the 27-acre lot was sold to a developer, destined to become an industrial park. But fate wasn’t done with it yet: drive-in theaters experienced a resurgence in 2020 with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stroke of luck was too good to last. So goes the march of time. But people like Charles Phoenix will always have their memories.

“My fondest memory was seeing Jaws there in 1975,” he reminisces.

“There was a fire in the mountains, so I watched the fire and the movie at the same time.”

Fire and a show? A SoCal double-feature.

Mission Tiki will host its last swap meet this weekend.

What questions do you have about Southern California?

Most Read