On a Saturday Night, the Drive-in Movie Theater Is the Only Place to Be

“We’re getting summertime business in the spring time without a blockbuster to drive the audience in,” says a drive-in manager. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

From Vulture: At around 7:00 p.m. on a recent Saturday in Montclair, California — the sun descending over the San Gabriel Mountains as much of the rest of the country continued to grow confrontationally restive in its second month under COVID-19 shelter-in-place rules — a long line of cars snaked down Ramona Avenue toward the Mission Tiki Drive-in Theatre. Local health-department ordinances had left fellow drive-ins in nearby Los Angeles and Riverside Counties indefinitely shuttered, along with the entirety of SoCal’s conventional multiplexes. So by equal parts luck and default, the nostalgic, 67-acre outdoor movie mecca with its Moai statue garden and palm-thatched ticket huts had become one of the last bastions of public entertainment for miles around.

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Drive-in theaters, such a part of past moviegoing, may have a special role in the pandemic present


From the Boston Globe: In the 1930s, the Whiz Auto Products Company of New Jersey had a sales manager named Richard Hollingshead. He had an idea to standardize a concept that others had tried, but only haphazardly: He set about making plans for the world’s first proper, open-air, drive-in movie theater.

While testing his idea in his own driveway, Hollingshead quickly realized that cars parked bumper to bumper would create obstructed views for the people in the back. After some experimentation, he hit upon the optimal distance between rows of cars.

Hollingshead, in other words, was a pioneer in physical distancing.

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Drive-In Theaters Across the U.S. to Get the IMAX Treatment, Thanks to Tribeca

Moviegoers watch “How to Train Your Dragon 2” at a drive-in theater. Robert F Bukaty/AP/Shutterstock

From IndieWire: Most theater chains might be closed, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be communal moviegoing experiences over the summer. Tribeca Enterprises announced Tribeca Drive-In on Wednesday, which will bring the drive-in movie theater experience to cities and towns across the nation.

Tribeca Drive-In kicks off on Thursday, June 25. The series will roll out to markets across the country throughout the summer and will feature a curated selection of new, classic, and independent films, as well as special music and sports events. The full programming line-up and ticket information will be announced in the coming weeks.

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Drive-throughs and drive-ins were fading. Coronavirus made them a lifeline

The Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre on Thursday, during a socially distant showing of “Knives Out,” with Don Johnson on the screen. The theater’s swap meet is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but the movies continue. Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

From the LA Times:

To venture out in Southern California during the COVID-19 pandemic is to encounter a landscape dressed in an unfamiliar coat. Freeways bear unimaginably light traffic. Playgrounds are wrapped in caution tape. The simple act of picking up a loaf of bread at the supermarket is now a dystopic obstacle course of Plexiglas shields, social distancing markers and masked shoppers circling one another like repellent magnets.

Public space is not a place in which to gather, but something to be surmounted instead.

However, in Los Angeles, a city where public space can often be an elusive proposition, there are bubbles of normalcy. And some of that normalcy can be found at the drive-through.

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