During the golden age of outdoor movie viewing, drive-in-movie theaters were a phenomenon. By the late 1950s, one-third of theaters in America were drive-ins. Over the last 40 years or so, the number of drive-in theaters has declined considerably. It’s estimated there are fewer than 400 drive-in movie theaters in the United States today. Those that are still in operation face pressure from traditional theaters as well as people viewing movies and digital screenings at home.
New York, California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania boast some of the highest numbers of drive-in movie theaters across the United States. The United Drive-In Theater Owners Association also lists four active drive-ins in the Ontario area of Canada. Those looking for some summer fun that includes a movie night out can visit www.driveintheatre-ownersassociation.org to find a nearby drive-in theater.
Taking a road trip to visit a drive-in theater can be an entertaining adventure. But outdoor movie enthusiasts also can construct an outdoor theater in the comfort of their own backyards.
Concession sales provided much of revenue of drive-in theaters in their glory days. When creating an outdoor viewing experience at home, don’t forget to make food part of the experience. A classic popcorn maker can keep freshly popped corn ready on demand. In addition, fire up the grill to ensure there are plenty of tasty items available.
Projectors enable viewers to display a movie on just about any large, unobscured surface. While a large, hanging sheet can be handy, any smooth surface on your home, such as a large expanse of wall, can do the trick. Projectors now come in various sizes, and there are some pocket-sized varieties that can work with phones and other mobile devices.
Create multi-leveled viewing by setting up seating on an incline in the yard, if available. Otherwise, place lawn chairs toward the back and have viewers in the front sit on blankets or towels so they do not obscure the screen for viewers in the back.
Choose a family-friendly or kitschy movie to display. Delve into the classics of your movie library. Imagine seeing ‘Jaws’ on a big screen once more or a cult-classic like ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.’
Build in some intermission time when everyone can get up from their chairs or picnic blankets and mingle. Also, plan some pre- and post-viewing activities. Drive-in theaters were known to include some additional entertainment to boost attendance. Having a dance party or including some carnival-type games can make for a well-rounded and enjoyable night.