COVID-19: The Return of the Drive-In Theaters

Since the start of the pandemic, drive-in theaters have been growing in popularity


Gazette/GBT illustration / ANDREW YUNG and SIDNEY ZABELL

People have been heading on over to the drive-ins to see the featured movies of 2020, released during the pandemic.

   Since the beginning of the quarantine in March, the availability to see new movies through the cinema has been severely restricted. As case numbers rose and government restrictions followed, movie theaters around the world shut down. 

   Although many movies went straight to streaming services, people missed going out to see movies. So an old outlet began to grow in popularity once more: drive-in movies.

   Drive-in movies burst onto the scene in the early twentieth century and began to be more and more popular during the 1950s. 

   According to the New York Film Academy, the first patented drive-in was opened on June 6, 1933 in New Jersey. 

   This concept became very popular with families, and old advertisements even described the drive-in as a place where “the whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” 

   During the latter part of the twentieth century, the popularity died down as land became more valuable, cars became smaller, and larger multiplex theaters began to attract people.   

The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.

— Richard Hollingshead Jr.

   What makes this information relevant to today’s problems? 

    Due to COVID-19, we must keep our six feet of social distance and limit time indoors, so drive-in movies solve this exact problem. A person or a family can see a movie without making any direct contact with any other people, which explains the recent spikes in drive-in movies attendance.

   Businesses around the world are taking advantage of the drive-in movie concept. Parking lots in malls and Walmarts have been turned into temporary drive ins, with food trucks coming in to take advantage of the movie patrons. 

   Other permanent drive-ins are gaining a lot of popularity, like the local West Wind Drive-in, off of Highway 50 in Sacramento. They are showing first run movies like “Tenet” and “Unhinged,” as well as older double features like “The Spongebob Squarepants Movie” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” 

   So if you are looking for a way to see the latest movie release, or enjoy an old favorite, while keeping yourself safe, drive-in movies are a safe, fantastic option.