Drive-In Theaters Could Be Making A Come Back For A Socially Distanced World

Drive-in movie theaters appear to be making a comeback.

At the moment with shutdowns across the globe which includes movie theatres there has been something of a mini-boom for drive-in theatres.

With people safe in their cars as the projector starts up, it’s proving a fun social distancing experience! South Korea and Germany are the new hotspots for customer-driven – so to speak – entertainment.

The New York Post mentions the city of Cologne (Germany), where proprietors “are allowing just 250 cars on the 1,000-capacity lot, in order to comply with social-distancing regulations”. The safety measures don’t end there: “when tickets are scanned, they are scanned by a gloved employee through a closed window.”

Germany has a mere 2 venues in total staying open through the year. One of these, Autokino Essen, saw a surge in business. “On April 6,” the New York Post writes, “the drive-in sold 500 tickets for ‘Manta Manta,’ a German comedy that was a huge hit in 1991.”

Drive-ins were always considered the poor relation when it came to the latest releases.

In fact, the operation is more associated with ‘B’ movies and adult presentations than anything to do with Marvel or Disney. That hasn’t stopped patrons pulling in for a watch in recent weeks.

In addition to established drive-ins, a variety of pop-ups are bringing the big screen to the great outdoors. Reporting on the situation in South Korea, THR talks about Eastern Seoul’s Nowon District, which has “set up a 1,100 square foot screen in a local park and is showing older films for free to the car-bound public.”

The move is seen as important for people’s well-being. “Oh Seung-rok, the chief of Nowon District, suggested local citizens take advantage of the city’s drive-ins to relieve ‘emotional distress’ caused by quarantine and social distancing measures.”

THR’s Scott Roxborough writes, “when the sun goes down and the movie starts, it feels like a regular night out — something we haven’t had in a long time.”

What about America, where the drive-in was first thought of?

There are only 25 still remaining open where once there were 1000’s. That could all change, following recent comments by New York’s governor. He may allow drive-ins to dust off the cobwebs, enabling Big Apple movie fans and others to emerge from lockdown and grab their fix.

Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. was the auto parts sales manager who brought the whole concept together in 1933. According to Smithsonian Magazine, “it took… Hollingshead to see the genius in giving a car-loving society one more activity they could do in their vehicles.”

His first drive-in was located at Camden, New Jersey. “People paid 25 cents per car as well as per person to see the British comedy Wives Beware under the stars” Smithsonian Magazine writes. It isn’t clear when the first incident of steamy windows occurred, though it’s safe to assume that particular activity was popular from the get-go.