Drive-In Movie Theaters Resurge Amid Coronavirus Pandemic


Courtesy of Jude Mabsout

A drive-in movie theater is held in Primm, Nevada in June. Americans have been flocking to drive-ins ever since the pandemic cast doubt on indoor movie theaters.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought back the decades-old tradition of drive-in movie theaters, as large chains such as Regal and AMC continue to suffer economically.

Drive-in movie theaters can comply with modified health guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control, such as maintaining a minimum of six feet of distance, exclusively outdoor gatherings and required facial coverings.

The experience of drive-in movie theaters contributes to the release of stress, loneliness and depression that as many as 55% of Americans are feeling as a result of the pandemic, CNBC reports.

Junior Jude Mabsout has been to a drive-in movie theater recently.

“I think [drive-ins] are definitely a break from stress, but it depends on what the person is going through,” Mabsout said.

Time Magazine reports that drive-in movie owners are hoping to capture the attention of community audiences by showing classics like “E.T.” and “Jaws.” While indoor movie theaters have reopened and pushed for the releases of films, drive-ins want to give off a sense of nostalgia during the pandemic, in hopes to compete with AMC and Regal. However for some, this plan has not worked.

“Drive-in movies would become the new norm if they put in new movies,” Mabsout said. “Sometimes indoor movie theaters are dirty and have limited seating, so drive-ins can be a better alternative.”

Walmart, a chain known for its retail department and grocery stores, has also helped with the resurgence of drive-in movie theaters by turning its parking lots into free drive-ins. As many as 160 of Walmart’s parking lots have been transformed into drive-in movie theaters, according to CNN.

“We recognize the challenges our customers and their families have faced over the last few months, and we wanted to create an experience where they could come together safely to create new memories,” Walmart’s chief customer officer Janey Whiteside said in a statement to CNN. “The Walmart Drive-In is one small way we’re supporting the communities we serve.”

Nearby drive-in theaters include the Regal Cinema Parking Lot Deck in the Irvine Spectrum and parking lot 2 at the Orange County Great Park. Fees and admissions differ for each venue.