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Middleton documentary featured in magazine

A documentary produced by a member of Morehead State’s faculty has been featured in the latest edition of Kentucky City magazine.   

The documentary, “The Show Starts at Dark,” was produced by Steve Middleton, instructor of mass communications at MSU. Middleton said he was first inspired to create the documentary on a road trip with his band.  

“I was driving to a gig with the string band I play with to rural southeast Kentucky. One of the things on the drive south that caught my eye was an abandoned drive-in theatre. You could still see the big screen, concession stand and poles for speakers. The kudzu, grass and weeds had overtaken the lot and had begun to climb up the screen. I thought to myself how sad that sight looks,” he said. “After the festival we played, I went home and started to research drive-in theaters and found out there were at that time seven left in Kentucky. I then got the idea to document each one and tell their story about the ebb and flow of the business and industry.”  

The documentary tells the story of the seven remaining drive-in movie theaters in Kentucky and how those theaters have thrived as more and more drive-ins close across the country. Middleton visited all the drive-ins in the state and spoke to the owners, operators and patrons to explore precisely why drive-ins remain so popular in the Commonwealth.   

“I learned so much about the drive-In business and the movie theater business in general from producing the film,” Middleton said. “What I thought I would find were seven barely getting by drive-ins. What I discovered fairly quickly is the drive-In industry is booming as long as a new and popular movie is being shown. Almost every theater I went to had a large, nearly sold-out crowd every night.”  

Since the documentary was produced, a new drive-in has opened in La Grange, bringing the statewide total to eight.   

The documentary will air on KETKY on the following days:  
  • Tuesday, Dec. 31, at 4 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.  
  • Friday, Jan.3, at midnight, 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.  
To learn more about the documentary, contact Middleton at or call 606-783-9583.  

For information about programs in MSU’s Department of Communication, Media and Languages, visit, email or call 606-783-2134.