With warm summer months rapidly approaching and vacation plans filling up, there is one classic summer outing that is often forgotten: drive-in movie theaters.
In the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, drive-in theaters cemented themselves as an important part of American culture. It’s a picture of classic Americana: a family of four pulling up in their Chevy Bel Air to a seven o’clock showing of “Singin’ in the Rain.”
A night at the drive-in was an ideal evening for young families, teenage couples and anyone who wanted to enjoy an inexpensive movie from the comfort and privacy of their own car. At their peak in the late 1950’s, some 4,000 drive-ins spread across the United States. Now, only 348 of these treasures are left.
As home entertainment became more accessible, gas more expensive and newly adopted daylight saving time pushed screenings into later hours, it became harder for drive-in theaters to operate successfully. These theaters were limited to only a few films per night, and many to only a few months per year.
Drive-in theaters are expansive and require a large budget and high volume to be maintained, so many were forced to close. The recent transition from film to digital projection in the industry has also left a lot of drive-in theaters in the dust; it costs a drive-in theater roughly $80,000 per screen to make the transition, while it costs an indoor theater nearly half that.
The movement to enjoy cinema in the comfort of one’s own car is gaining traction, and new drive-in theaters are opening every year. Retro-themed burger chain Johnny Rockets and theater chain USA Drive-Ins teamed up in a audacious plan to open 200 new drive-in theaters in the next two years.
Drive-ins provide a romantic and nostalgic alternative to traditional theater environments, and many drive-in theaters continue to thrive across the country. Regular theaters typically have smaller screens, cost more and have a sterile environment that all start to feel the same. Not only do drive-ins provide a superior cinema experience, but they also give a nostalgic, community feeling that indoor theaters can’t provide.
Visit one this summer! To find a drive-in theater near you, visit http://www.driveinmovie.com