Watch CBS News

Twin Cities filmmaker's new movie a "love letter" to Vali-Hi Drive-In

Legendary Vali-Hi Drive-In stars in Woodbury filmmaker’s new movie
Legendary Vali-Hi Drive-In stars in Woodbury filmmaker’s new movie 02:03

LAKE ELMO, Minn. — The Vali-Hi Drive-In in Lake Elmo has been closed for almost two years now — but a filmmaker raised in Woodbury is keeping memories of the iconic theatre alive.

He made his favorite drive-in a star in his first feature film.

"It was just a huge part of my life, and it still is," said filmmaker Justin Atkinson.

The Vali-Hi Drive-In is where Atkinson's earliest movie memories were made.

"My mom took me to see 'Jurassic Park.' I'd never seen dinosaurs like that. To see them projected against the night sky and we're outside and I didn't know a dinosaur could come out and get me," he said.


The famous outdoor theatre is also where he started roaring toward a future in filmmaking.

"I always knew someday that when I grew up, I wanted to make my first movie here at the Vali-Hi Drive-In Theatre," said Atkinson.

MORE NEWS: 9 students arrested at U of M pro-Palestinian encampment

In 2022, Atkinson got that opportunity. He shot his film, "Bobby's Intermission" with local actors and crew before the beloved theatre closed.

"The story of 'Bobby's Intermission' is about a young man named Bobby who dreams about making a movie and he thinks he can do it all himself. He accidentally breaks his camera, has to get a job to fix his camera, which is what leads him here to the Vali-Hi Drive-In. It's a comedy, it's got romance and action. A little bit of everything and it's a family-friendly movie too," said Atkinson.

It premiered with three sold-out shows last fall and now it's expanding beyond Minnesota as Atkinson works to self-distribute it.

"There's a drive-in theatre in Utah called the Erda Drive-In that's going to be showing it for two weeks in May," said Atkinson.

Wherever the film goes, it's rooted in Minnesota and the memories made off Hudson Boulevard in Lake Elmo.

"My movie is a love letter to the Vali-Hi Drive-In," said Atkinson.

Atkinson is hosting a public screening of "Bobby's Intermission" at the Woodbury 10 Theatre on Tuesday at 6 p.m. All of the ticket sales will be donated to the non-profit, Basic Needs.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.