Drive-In to stay in: An invention is reborn


Jada McGlothin

The opening screen at Alamo Draft house drive-in movie in October to provide arrival time.

Jada McGlothin, Staff Writer

Due to social distancing and mask mandates, people have been longing to experience a sense of normalcy. Drive-in movies provide a familiar experience for many, even though the initial popularity of the concept began many years ago.  

“[Before] I went [to a drive-in movie] for my friend’s birthday, I had never thought about going to one,” sophomore Jojo Ellis said. 

According to History, Richard Hollingshead, the inventor of drive-in movies, perfected his idea by attempting to make outdoor set-ups, rehearsing weather conditions through the use of sprinklers and testing car placement. The idea of having an enclosed area where someone can comfortably watch a movie while safe from the coronavirus has begun to intrigue students.  

“I can definitely see myself going to a drive-in,” junior Kayla Cha said. “Not only would it be outside, but people would have the ability to distance themselves from one another.”

The desire for safety prompted many places such as Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to bring back drive-ins. Upon arrival, people can pick a parking spot, tune into a specific FM station and enjoy the movie. Viewers are also able to order food online ahead of time to receive it at the beginning of the movie. 

“It was a lot of fun because I was with my friends and [there was] food,” Ellis said.

Although this is an enjoyable activity for many, others find it difficult to enjoy the movie comfortably, because objects like car mirrors can block the view of the screen

“Drive-ins aren’t too great if you want to watch a movie [clearly],” Ellis said. “I prefer [watching] home movies if it is my first time seeing a movie and if the movie is supposed to be really good,”  

Other drive-ins within the Northern Virginia area including Hulls’s Drive-In, Goochland Drive-In Theater and Alexandria Drive-In Theater. Though having an enclosed personal space may be convenient, drive-in prices can range from $10 to $35 while in-person movies average out to $9.16 according to Statista. Though there won’t be any solid statistics of this rise of drive-ins in 2020 until the end of the year, this pandemic has pushed businesses to bring this old concept back to life. 

“I don’t see myself going back to traditional movie theaters,” Cha said. “Having too many people in a crowded room doesn’t sound like the safest way to handle a global pandemic.”