Drive-In Movie Theatres Make Massive Comeback While Cinemas Around The World Close Down

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Drive-In Movie Theatres Make Massive Comeback While Cinemas Around The World Close Down

Drive-in movies were once a staple of American culture and even those of us too young to remember their heyday still recognise them as part of classic 20th century American life. All you required was a vehicle, some time and (usually) a radio to tune in to the audio and you were set for a wonderful night out at the movies.


Moving forward to 2020 and we may be about to see the revival of the drive-in movie as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With much of the US and the world still in lockdown it means that cinemas are strictly off limits, and most likely will be for some time to come given that they pack a lot of strangers into a confined space for an extended period.
In the US alone 40,000 cinema screens have shut off and there have been delays to a number of films due for release or in production, with the new James Bond title No Time to Die, DC film’s Wonder Woman 1984, and Disney’s retelling of Mulan being just some of the big hits that have been delayed.


Some analysts are even predicting that the lockdown of cinemas could continue to at least August and by that time as many as a quarter of the theatres in the US will shut for good as a result of being in lockdown. A grim prophecy for all cinema lovers.



Therefore it is being predicted by some, and promoted by others, that the time of the new modern drive-in movie theatre is here! After all drive-in theatres don’t require close human contact, they don’t require any violation of lockdown (in many places) and it is a great way for families to actually do an activity and relieve some of the stress and boredom of being locked away for what now seems to many like an age. However, while the US has over 300 drive-in movie theatres only 25 of them, under 10%, are currently in operation.


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, widely praised for his handling of the coronavirus crisis in America’s worst hit city, is one of those promoting the idea of getting drive-in theatres up and running, he said during a daily briefing, "Where is the public safety issue? It’s a drive-in theatre. You’re in the car with the same people"


In some countries there has already been a resurgence in drive-in cinemas. In Germany and South Korea (which were both slightly less badly hit than other countries) there has been a huge increase in the number of families heading to drive-ins. Frank Peciak, the manager of Autokino Essen a drive-in in Cologne Germany said:
"It doesn't matter what we show, people just want to get out and watch a movie … we’re sold out weeks in advance"



At Peciak’s Cologne cinema the strictest health and safety is adhered to. Just 250 of the 1,000 spaces are allocated in order to comply with distancing guidelines and tickets are scanned by gloved hands through a closed window. Nothing is left to chance.


It may be though that drive-in movie attendance in the US is actually being underestimated with many restaurants and other take-away venues creating their own outdoor cinemas for customers. One of these is the People’s Restaurant in Corpus Christi, Texas, who are running movies on a projector screen in their parking lot. Owner Joe Gonzalez said:


"We are in awe on how quickly we sold out of tickets this week … the community's response to our drive-in has really made a huge impact for us." He went on to add "We were having a hard time trying to stay afloat through carry-out and delivery. It was costing us more money to stay open that way … But when one of my daughters came up with the drive-in idea, our whole family was on board and went straight to work to make it a reality."


While there are issues surrounding social-distancing and lockdown measures, there are also legal issues surrounding the public showing of films particularly if it is done so for profit. This is something that could hold many of the pop-ups back as we move into the summer months – historically the peak time of drive-in cinema.



There is also the issue of investment. While it may be fun and profitable to begin with putting money into any new venture means hoping to see it flourish in the longer-term. There is no telling how drive-in cinema will fare when the crisis comes to an end. There may be novelty in travelling out in your car to truck to see a movie but can it really compare to the surround sound of a modern cinema, or the massive choice most of us now have on Hulu and Netflix? Who knows!


What we do know is that during these lockdown times it would be great to see already existing drive-in cinemas opened (while maintaining safety protocols) as they would bring great relief to those of us trapped for so long while also creating a unique memory for the young generation that will last a lifetime.

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Thinking Humanity: Drive-In Movie Theatres Make Massive Comeback While Cinemas Around The World Close Down
Drive-In Movie Theatres Make Massive Comeback While Cinemas Around The World Close Down
Drive-in movies were once a staple of American culture and even those of us too young to remember their heyday still recognise them as part of classic 20th century American life. All you required was a vehicle, some time and (usually) a radio to tune in to the audio and you were set for a wonderful night out at the movies.
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