You should thank the movie gods if you are lucky enough to have a drive-in movie theater near you.
At the height of drive-in popularity, there were 4,063 in 1958. In 1952, drive-ins actually surpassed traditional theaters in attendance. By 1989, there were only 999. The good news is, though, that the number of drive-ins has been stable since then, and you should support the one near you.
There is a charm about drive-ins. It’s a community event, where it’s OK for kids to run around before the movie starts, we can wear pajamas, make out, drink a beer, or even chat during the movie without bothering anyone. There is a freedom at the drive-in you don’t get at a regular theater. Granted, the sound system is your car (which is actually a bonus), the image isn’t as sharp, and sometimes the smell of pot from the teenagers car next to you can be overwhelming, but we feel the charm outweighs the negatives.
3. The Novelty: Call us corny, but there’s a nostalgic novelty from the drive-in. The Malta Drive-In, in Malta, NY, still plays those corny snack stand reminder videos, and has everyone honk their horns before the movie starts. I just love that. It’s so much fun. Their snack stand is like many of the other drive-in theaters I’ve been to, it’s old, straight out of the 50s, everything is deep friend, and the prices are cheaper than traditional theaters.
2. Price and value: It’s hard to beat a double feature for $8 for an adult. We had our choice of “Robin Hood” and “The Backup Plan” or “Iron Man 2” and “Shrek Forever After.” Not bad, considering these are new movies. I was glad to see both were sold out. Our theater charges $5 if you bring your own food, but we opted for the popcorn at the stand, which was $5.75 for a monster tub.
1. Freedom: You get to horse around at the drive-in, as long as you’re not a jerk. One of my favorite things to do is make shadow puppets on the screen during intermission. It’s really gratifying to make the dog shadow puppet eat the big tub of popcorn on the screen the theater is advertising. Also, you can chat in your car without bothering anyone, as long as you’re not loud about it. You can put the air conditioning on or turn up the heat, open the moon roof, put your seat wayyyyy back, bring a pillow, determine how loud you want the sound, and our drive-in lets me bring my dog. Try doing all that at a mega cine-plex. The other aspect is, you’re outside when the sun’s setting. It’s a perfect way to spend a summer evening.