A family of four sits at the Galaxy Drive-In Movie Theatre in Ellis, TX, eager for the picture to begin. But before they can enjoy their movie, a chilling black and white film short flashes photos of closed down drive-ins across the country and displays the horrors of the future: a world wiped completely of all drive-in theatres .
However, the Galaxy no longer needs to display this video after the wild surge in drive-in theatre popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although a drive-in movie sounds like a fun flash to the past, this nostalgia was not enough to keep these theatres afloat pre-pandemic. These open-air entertainment centers were expensive and required 3-5 acres of land to run.
“Equipment was very expensive and so was the engineering of the screen and operating the concession stand on just a single screen or double feature per night,” manager of Hudson Valley Four Brother’s Drive-In John Stefanopoulos told FOX Business.
And this level of upkeep was not sustainable without consistent revenue, a factor which many drive-ins were not able to maintain, especially amidst the rise of online entertainment. No one was willing to drive out of town to watch a movie that they could rent in their living room, at least not until they would do anything the leave the living room.
The industry, based on the dying tradition of Main Street America, may be one of the few businesses which truly benefitted from this pandemic.
“As a result of the coronavirus, drive-in movies are becoming increasingly popular as an entertainment option in the age of social distancing,” said Business Insider.
These theatres are not only rising in popularity because people want a safe weekend activity, but they are also being utilized as creative ways for declining businesses and canceled events to reclaim some lost opportunities during quarantine time.
The Blue Starlight Drive-In Theatre invites some of these new movie-going opportunities and events. “Theatergoers watched short films that were scheduled to premiere at the South by Southwest festival in Austin,” said the New York Times.
These theatres are also being used for extreme out-of-the box events in order to accommodate with social distancing guidelines.
Owner of The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Chris Escobar, told ABC News, “The Plaza is hosting a drive-in wedding on Saturday at one of its lots and has been approached about doing book readings.”
The drive-in industry is not only resurging, but is also inspiring to other business who have built upon the idea of the outdoor movie experience.
“Within the first few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, sales at the Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens, were down nearly 70,” said ABC News, so, in order to stay afloat, “In early May, the retro 24/7 diner in New York turned its parking lot into a drive-in movie theater, complete with an inflatable screen as tall as the chrome-shellacked building.”
This one business’ adoption of the drive-in style was overwhelmingly successful, selling 300 tickets in 1 minute, proving as a reminder of the intrigue of all drive-in theatres and promoting new pop up theatres.
“Drivers have recently sold out screenings at pop-up drive-ins at the Bucktown Marina park in Metairie, La., and the parking lot of the Broadway Commons mall in Hicksville, N.Y,” said ABC News.
Chris Escobar said, “Drive-Ins are the future,” a phrase not uttered since the 1930s when the institutions first showed up in small towns. As of now, though, due to the need for distance and isolation, drive-in theatres do prove to be the future and their resurgence is an exciting new implication for many, whether for young kids needing a weekend activity or adults enjoying a nostalgic night out[2S2] .
[2S1]Love the hook!