Coronavirus Has Made The Drive-In Theatre The Hottest Form Of Entertainment

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The coronavirus has turned the entire entertainment industry on it's ear. But there is a silver lining for one part of the business that is reconnecting with the movie hungry public. The rebirth of the drive-in has been prompted by the need for social distancing and the memory of the days of past.

The COVID-19 virus has led us to look back to find a path forward. Drive-in theatres should continue to be a popular new norm in American life long after COVID-19 is behind us.

Drive-in's are an American creation that was introduced 87 years ago in Camden, New Jersey. Richard Hollingshead came up with the idea, while working as a sales manager in his father's store, Whiz Auto Products. In 1941 in-car audio speaker technology was developed. This new technology allowed theaters to be built across the country. In 1958, there were 4,063 drive-ins in the United States. Now there are less than 450.

Even though drive-in's have bee on the decline for years, they still have a loyal audience. At a time when patronizing traditional theaters poses a problem with social distancing, drive-in's are providing a safe way to experience movies and other forms of entertainment. American ingenuity is alive and well as many traditional theaters are in the process of converting their parking lots into drive-ins.

Pandemic or not, drive-in's have many reasons that should prompt you to consider attending one. People have space to spread out and they aren't sitting on top of one another. The introduction of FM and Bluetooth makes it easily to have stereo sound right in your own car. Drive-in's are still a great place for date night. High-quality movies will look just great projected on these giant outdoor screens.

While drive-ins associated primarily with movies, that doesn't have to stay that way. At the height of their popularity (during the 1950s and the 1960s) drive-in theaters offered more than just a movie. They also had concession stands, contests and fireworks and of course the double-feature.

The drive-in is generally thought to be better suited to family movies, action flicks, and horror films, but during the height of their popularity, exploitation films were a large part of their appeal.

Technological improvements and a little American Ingenuity are making it possible to use the drive-in for concerts. This idea is being tested in different parts of the country. In May 2020 at the Tupelo Music Hall in Derry, New Hampshire a concert was played at noon and 3 p.m. The first performance had a decent attendance, but the second performance was sold out with 75 cars, each paying the $75-per-vehicle fee.

Recently Keith Urban and DJ D-Nice held drive-in concerts paying tribute to frontline healthcare workers and first responders. Other drive-in concerts like these are being planned across the country. Many of these will offer listeners the opportunity to use their car sound systems for a stereo experience much like they heard in past live concerts.

Technological improvements like these allow people to see event movies on really big screens with an enhanced experience. Sitting under the stars might just make the experience more memorable than sitting in a large area.


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