COVID 19 BLOG SERIES: 

Drive-In Theaters and Where to Find Them

Credit: Michael Buckner

As we head into the next month of living through a worldwide pandemic, we must find different ways to create our new normal. While the United States seems to be behind on most of that work compared to other countries, one way in which we have been creative: how we watch movies.

 

For the most part, going to a physical theater has become non-existent for Americans, and theater companies are feeling the effects hard. Small arthouse and independent theaters are closing down, bigger companies like AMC just barely escaped bankruptcy, and blockbuster movies like Tenant and Mulan see no American premiere date in sight. Some entertainment companies have tried to combat this with films going straight to streaming, like NBCUniversal’s Trolls, however, there’s a new solution that is in fact, not new at all.

 

Drive-in movie theaters were assumed to be a thing of the past, however, since the pandemic, they have become a thing of the present. Many people are looking for ways to safely get out of the house without risking the spread of COVID-19 and drive-ins are the perfect solution. They allow individuals to leave the house, possibly wear something other than sweatpants, and feel the comfort of being safe while also getting a change of scenery.

 

Credit: Patrick Shipstad

Drive-ins are also creating economic alternatives for businesses looking to stay afloat during such an unprecedented time. Lastly, the resurgence in popularity brings back a social event that had all but died out. More Americans can now experience and access a special way of viewing a film outside of their house or local theater (before closures).

 

On the flip side, however, some say that drive-in movie theaters are not as profitable as one would think. In a recent CNN article, a drive-in owner stated that a myriad of related costs, such as paying for permits, movie licensing, and staffing, reduce profits more than he would like. 

 

It also seems that major production companies are not looking to change their methods of release to this format long-term. This is understandable, considering that most do not want to miss out on lucrative ticket sales or to compromise the experience of surround sound and the optimal up close and personal viewing experience. But how long must we wait for conditions to improve? More importantly, will people feel comfortable returning to theaters when the time comes? 

 

It is no secret that America is struggling to find its new normal amid our government’s misguidance. The least that we can have are ways to entertain ourselves, and drive-ins safely do just that. 

Here is a curated list of permanent and pop-up drive-in theaters in our major production hub states…

 

Georgia:

 Starlight Drive-in (Located in Atlanta)

 Plaza Theater (Located in Atlanta)

 Jesup Drive-In Movie Theater (Located in Jesup)

Tiger Drive-In (Located in Tiger)

Swan Drive-In (Located Blue Ridge)

 

Southern California:

Mission Tiki (Montclair)

Van Buren Drive-In (Riverside)

Paramount Drive-In (LA County)

Vineland (City of Industry)

List of pop-ups happening in LA for the next month

 

New York City:

Brooklyn Drive-In (Sunset Park)

Queens Drive-In (Corona Park)

Juicy Lucy (Staten Island)

Bel Aire Diner (Queens)

Uptown Drive-In (The Bronx)

 

Credit: Walmart

Outside of these permanent places, pop-up drive-in theaters are also happening in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Navigating them can be somewhat difficult, but a great resource is looking up your local Walmart. Yes, Walmart. The company announced that it is teaming up with Tribeca Enterprises to bring blockbuster hits, celebrities, and filmmakers to 160 Walmarts across the nation. Customers can order items and food while enjoying a film from the comfort of their cars. While no official start date has been announced, the site, located here, indicates that they plan to start in early August.  

 

While the jury is still out on whether or not Drive-ins are here to stay, what we know for sure is that they are here now and we should embrace and enjoy the opportunity. Of course, staying at home is best and most recommended, but if you do feel you need time to get out, Drive-ins are a great – and safe – way to do so with members of your household.

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