A Guide to a Beautiful Drive-In Cinematic Experience.

February 19, 2022

Imagine a huge screen in a big space, open to the sky; a super comfortable reclining seating arrangement right in the comfort of your car; some scrumptious popcorn in your vehicle and a personal sound system.  As people around the world are taking a deep dive into nostalgia amid the lockdown, the very old-school drive-in theatres are making a comeback across the world. After years of nostalgia and eyeing the phenomenon that seemed to sum up the American teenage existence, all of us will finally be able to experience our personal outdoor automotive cinematic experience, because of the virus that shall not be named.

So, what is a drive-in theatre exactly? 

Drive-in theatres or drive-in cinemas,are places where people get in their cars to watch movies on a huge outdoor screen. This was a seemingly absurd idea back in those times, where one would drive in a car to a gate, pay a minimal admission fee, park their car facing the movie screen, and watch the movie from their car, along with multiple others in their own car.

The big blow to movie theatres in recent times has been twofold. First, capacity restrictions considering the social distancing norms have made operating a theatre profitably a difficult task. Of course, the need for drive-in theatres is absolutely clear for the moment. Since the indoor movie theatres aren’t really very safe, drive-ins provide a viable alternative that serves the very important purpose of getting people out of the house. 

Considering the late 90s and early 2000s, a new drive-in boom took place. Experiencing a drive-in movie is something you can’t just pass up, especially with some cinemas still closed due to the whole lockdown situation. Being able to pull the windows down on a windy summer night, breathing in the fresh summer air and watching that blockbuster film you’ve always wanted to see is such a priceless experience. So, if you want to turn back the clock and channel your inner cinema junkies, here is a list of the best drive-in movie theatres you can find across the world.

Mission Tiki Drive-In, California

Dating back to 1959, this 72-year-old drive-in theatre was almost on the verge of closing down in 2019, but the Covid pandemic gave it a second chance. With its rich heritage Polynesian statue garden and a vintage thatch-roofed ticket booth, the theatre’s tiki theme is on full display. The Mission Tiki Drive-In theatre in Montclair is only a 45-minute drive from Los Angeles. Four screens will show your favorite classic films and others the newly released. Make sure you travel with an empty stomach so that you can indulge in some of the snack bar’s food, ranging from hamburgers, tacos, carne asada fries and more! You surely don’t want to miss out on this really cool cinematic experience. 

Bengies Drive-In theatre, Maryland

An abode to the biggest movie screen in America, with dimensions of 52 feet high by 120 feet wide, Bengies Drive-In theatre will give its visitors an experience or maybe show, or two, to never forget. Literally,unforgettable. Double features are a regular thing at the drive-in theatre in Middle River, Maryland, but people who land up on the weekend will be treated with utter highness and triple features! Yes you read it right, three movie shows for the price of one ticket. Just on the outskirts of Baltimore, Bengies is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. It is only getting huge!

Skyline Drive-In NYC, New York

New York is known for its crazy beautiful restaurants, open-to-air artsy things, and beautiful scenic moments, but the “City that Never Sleeps” also has a drive-in movie theatre you shouldn’t sleep in. Situated on the East River in Brooklyn, this beautiful  Skyline Drive-In NYC offers some amazing jaw dropping views of the Manhattan skyline, so you will surely have to try not to get distracted from your movie. Movie offerings range from New York to all of the new hit releases. With panoramic views of the big apple and a concession stand on-site, watching a movie here is a one-of-a-kind experience. The cost per car ranges to about $55 so make sure to come with a group of friends to split the cost or bring your significant other and enjoy a romantic night!

Madrid Autocine RACE 

This one opened in 2017, founded by three friends who were looking for a unique business opportunity in Madrid.This huge drive-in cinema, the largest by dimensions in Europe, is set on a 25,000 square metre plot in the shadow of Madrid’s Cuatro Torres skyscrapers, in the neighbourhood of Chamartin, north of the centre.It has a huge 250 square metre screen,a great quality digital projector and FM radio transmitter that transmits the audio straight to vehicles. While there’s the summer vibes all round, the drive-in also has 160 deck chairs in front of the big screen for those who want to experience the drive-in, but who don’t have a car.

Why would you watch a film in an empty car park when you can experience something way better one the grounds of a country mansion? Built within 400 acres, the gorgeously grand Sandon Hall, near the beautiful town of Stafford, has space for 165 cars per screening.The Great British Drive covers about a 100 sq m LED screen and keeps screening blockbusters, Bollywood films, Sundance favourite Whiplash and even some free educational screenings such as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Before the Flood.You can enjoy listening through your car radio via an FM transmitter. Take a picnic or order street food prepared by chefs from the immersive dining experience Funicular Productions, or Birmingham-based Digbeth Dining Club. 

Sharjah: Movie Nights at Aljada

This pristine and permanent drive-in cinema at Madar at Aljada, the new entertainment complex at Emirates is located in its Muwaileh district, which screens films at no cost every evening this summer. There’s enough space for almost up to 150 cars, and cinephiles will simply have to park up their cars and tune into the correct frequency to enjoy the film experience each evening. Visitors can also satisfy their food cravings from the various nearby restaurants at Zad at Aljada, the food district. Orders can be placed from the comfort of your car, with dishes delivered “in a contactless and safe manner”. Upcoming screenings include some all time hit movies. 

Chennai’s Prarthana Drive-in Theatre,Marina Beach

This drive-in theatre offers the perfect car-seating, and for those who don’t like watching movies sitting in their cars, a gallery seating arrangement is as well. It’s got a really nice restaurant which is attached to it, and also a perfect playful area for kids who find movies too boring. A powerful digital projector beams movies onto a 4,500 sq ft concrete screen. The theatre hosts 2 shows or screenings a day, one in the evening and the other at night.

Ahmedabad’s Sunset Drive-in Cinema.

This beautiful drive-in cinema started in 1973, and it offers parking space for no less than 665 cars, which is practically huge. The theatre also has a covered area for those who don’t drive in. It offers some really tasty food services. The theatre claims that its screen is one of the largest among all such drive-ins across Asia. It hosts 2 shows daily, at 7:30 PM and 10:30 PM. It’s situated at Avkar Complex, Ftf Helmet Circle, Ahmedabad.

The Future of Drive-in Cinemas!

Prior to the pandemic, most of us hadn’t thought much about drive-in theatres for years. We likely didn’t have a lot of sense of how many people still went to them, or how many even still exist. Today, of course, their existence has been reconfirmed and their utility affirmed. For the last two months, in fact, they’ve been leading the show. Of the 500 plus drive-in cinemas across the world, more than 100 are open for business. And even now, as some brick-and-mortar theatres are sputtering to life, drive-ins outgross nearly all indoor locations. They’re doing their best business in years, with near-capacity shows throughout the week. 

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