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David Kilderry, Lunar Drive-In

Revival of a silver screen icon

Making your passion your profession

David Kilderry’s love of cinema began when his parents built a second story on their house in Reservoir, Victoria; from David’s new bedroom window, he could see the Coburg Drive-In screen.

“It was a little way away, but I could see it and I fell in love with drive-ins then and there,” David recalled.

By the time he was 12-years-old, David owned a Super-8 projector and a collection of films.  At 16, he was working as an assistant projectionist for a major picture theatre company, and after completing year 12, began studying Projection Technology at RMIT.

Everything old is new again

David’s brother Matthew, a qualified chef, shares David’s love of movies and together they toured Australia looking for an old drive-in theatre to revive.

The former Village Dandenong Panoramic Drive-In, on the outskirts of Dandenong, had seen better days when the brothers came across it and – along with a business partner – took on the lease in 2001.

“It needed a lot of work; it didn’t have screens, we had to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into it just to get it open,” David said.

“But I thought, it’s part of our culture and it can’t disappear,” he added.

The brothers both sold their homes, cars and another business in order to resurrect the neglected site and later buy it.

In September 2002, after much careful planning, the Lunar Drive-In opened, complete with two steel screens and a café, a brand new projection block and many site improvements.

“The opening week was a huge success, with thousands of cars turning out,” David remembers.

Additional screens were added over the years to cater for the crowds, making the Lunar Drive-In the largest of its kind in Australia.  

The secret to success

The Kilderry brothers say a big part of their success is due to the enjoyment the business brings them, particularly watching new customers discover the fun of the drive-in.  

“It is the coming together of the two greatest icons of the twentieth century, the automobile and the motion picture,” David said.

“Our secret is to run the right films, do the right food and do it well,” David concluded.