Almost rendered extinct, drive-in movie theaters have been given a new lease of life thanks to the new norm: social distancing. Except this is a way of being in everyone’s company but from the safety of your car. During the global pandemic, drive-ins have grown hugely in popularity as people are looking for alternative ways to leave their house.
Dating back to the 1930s, drive-in movie-going has taken on a nostalgic identity hardly associated with modern times. But interesting, it received a boost in popularity during something quite similar to what we’re experiencing today. When polio was at the forefront in the 1950s, drive-ins provided a safe way to enjoy entertainment. And they’ve circled back around to today, where outdoor movie tickets are selling fast.
The Hot New Thing
“Who would have thought that drive-in movies would one day again become the most attractive option for going out?” said the owner of a drive-in theater in Austin, Texas. Particularly in the more weather-friendly states, families and couples have been filling the car full of snacks, blankets, and hand sanitizer and enjoying an evening out of the house.
The drive-ins have reported a sales increase of up to 60% or an unprecedented amount of movie-goers for the spring season. In the late 1950s, there were approximately 4000 drive-ins across the states. Today, there are only 305 attached to the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association, but we can expect to see that number growing. A New York City diner has transformed itself into a pop-up drive-in movie theater during the pandemic, and more places are expected to follow suit.
Precautions Are Still Necessary
While they are a much safer entertainment alternative, precautions are still being taken. Buying tickets in person has been all but finished and been replaced with online ticketing. Capacity has been cut to half of what it usually was, in order for cars to park with enough distance between them. Double-screenings are also a thing of the past at the moment, as only single-screenings are allowed.
The drive-in staff members are taking precautions as well, wearing compulsory face masks and gloves, and keeping their distance. Will drive-in movie theaters, an almost forgotten pastime, be the future of evening entertainment? Only time will tell. All we know is that until then, we should be thankful they exist for providing a safe way for people to get out of the house and not go stir-crazy.