The Magic of the Drive-In

The year was 1980. I was just shy of 7-years-old when my parents told my brother and I to get dressed in our flannel pajamas and jump into the family station wagon. It was just after sundown, so numerous unpleasant thoughts raced through my not-yet-developed mind. Had we been bad? Were my parents giving us away? I had taken two cookies out of the jar earlier in the day, but surely there weren’t any witnesses?

My parents bounced into the front seat of the car and whisked us down a few side streets. About ten minutes later we parked in what looked to be an abandoned parking lot. My dad rolled down the window and attached this bulky looking metal object to the window and proceeded to roll it back up. An enormous screen in front of us lit up and we were immediately entranced as an animated hot dog and a smiling cup of Coca-Cola danced in unison and sang to us through that bulky looking object precariously hanging from the window.

That night, my brother and I sat awestruck and mesmerized for two hours watching The Empire Strikes Back. It was the first of countless drive-in movie experiences throughout the years. I can still vividly remember the fresh aroma of popcorn in the air and that exciting walk to the outdoor snack bar before the film. Lying on the hood of that beat-up station wagon devouring film after film quickly became our favorite family tradition. Naturally, movie theaters next to strip malls quickly turned the once majestic drive-in movie experience into a distant memory.

Then as fate would have it, the entire world was turned upside down by COVID-19. Words like quarantine and social distancing became the new normal. Suddenly, sitting in an air-conditioned room watching a film with 200 other masked moviegoers doesn’t sound so enticing. Unsurprisingly, drive-in movie theaters are making a huge comeback. It is 2020’s safest form of entertainment. Even the Miami Dolphins are turning Hard Rock Stadium into a massive 230-car temporary drive-in movie theater, although the actual opening date is unknown so far. So now is your chance to corral the kids, jump in your family car, and enjoy a night of magic at the movies.

By SCOTT PETERSON | @CineSportsTalk


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