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Pohatchee Drive-In Theater

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  • The drive-in with a large screen set against the desert.
  • Marty walks out of the restrooms at 'Pohatchee Drive-In Theater'.
"Marty saw nothing but Indians. / Sure, this place was called the 'Pohatchee Drive-In' after the Indians who used to live around Hill Valley, but Marty thought the designers of this particular outdoor movie theater might have gone a little overboard. Besides the neon Indian on the marquee out front, everything — from the concession booth to the base of the movie screen — was painted with teepees, arrows, and lots and lots of Indians. / Marty supposed the folks who built this place needed some sort of gimmick to get the crowds way out here. The Pohatchee Drive-In was a good forty minutes from the middle of town."
—From Back to the Future Part III by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 31)

The Pohatchee Drive-In was an American Indian themed drive-in Movie theater located about 20 miles outside of Hill Valley in 1955. The terrain was mostly desert and mesa. It was chosen by Emmett Brown as the location to send Marty McFly back to 1885 as there were no trees in either time at that location and because it was far enough away from Hill Valley that there would be minimal risk of the DeLorean time machine being seen. A bear cave, however, existed in both times not far from the site of the theater.

Following the 1950s, drive-in movies were gradually in decline, largely due to land becoming too valuable for summer-only businesses like drive-ins. Even in a temperate region like California, where drive-ins could operate year-round, their decline was also attributed to improved conditions in traditional movie houses and the rise of television. The drive-in is not seen or mentioned in 1985, and it may have closed down by that year. In the altered timeline, the fire trails left by the DeLorean may have done some damage to the theater screen.

It was named for the Pohatchee tribe of Indians that inhabited the area in the 19th century. The men's restroom, where Marty changed into his novelty cowboy costume, bore a hanging sign reading BRAVES, while the unseen women's restroom was presumably indicated by one which read SQUAWS.

Behind the scenes

  • The drive-in was constructed in Monument Valley, Utah, and deconstructed after filming.
  • One of the posters seen on the building is for Revenge of the Creature, which starred Clint Eastwood in his first movie as a lab technician where he said "I've lost my white mouse". The other poster is for Tarantula, which also had Eastwood in an uncredited role as a jet squadron leader.
  • As a reference to being the concluding sequel in the Back to the Future trilogy, all three movies advertised on the marquee were films produced by Universal in the 1950s and all three were sequels. These were Francis in the Navy, Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. Eastwood also had a small part in the first film.
  • Doc had provided Marty with a garish cowboy outfit which was adorned with atomic symbols, with possible reference to the 1950s being the "atomic age" during which nuclear bombs were tested in the desert Southwest, Marty driving a nuclear powered vehicle, as well as the popularity of cowboy films in that era.
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