It happened with vinyl and barber shops, as well as with a few other nostalgic goods and pastimes – they bounced back. Now, in this precarious time, a once-booming pastime is making a completely unexpected and highly unanticipated return: drive-in movie theaters.
The DailyMail is reporting that some drive-in movie theaters are reopening, thus allowing people, many for the first time in their lives, to experience the nostalgic nature of watching a movie on the big screen from the safety and comfort of their cars.
The drive-in movie theaters that recently reopened in various parts of the country have adjusted the way that they operate accordingly; to be extra safe, some are allowing people to bring their own food and drink, which was once considered taboo. In these cases, the only thing that they have to worry about is the bathroom, but there are even measures being taken to ensure that a trip to the loo is as safe as possible.
Western New York is lucky enough to have The Transit Drive-In Theatre, the Sunset Drive-In (in Middleport), and The Delevan Twin Drive-In Theatre (in Cattaraugus County) still open, considering that there are only 300+ drive-ins that remain open in the US. At one point, during the heyday of the late 50s, there were 4000 theaters open.
If newfangled drive-in theaters can offer pre-paid services, while piping sound directly to the vehicles’ radios (along with other safety measures), we might just be witnessing the return of a movie screening medium that might not have otherwise seen the dark of night. Might the trend continue, even after these dark days pass us by?
At the same time, there are those out there who would probably say that this type of cinematic resurgence, no matter how small-scale, and perceivably safe, might be sending up unwanted smoke signals. Should we continue to thwart the safety measures of self isolation by getting more creative with our social distancing gatherings?
Only the hands of time on an analog watch can tell.
Lead image: Photo by Tim Mossholder