What you value in experience: Refinding the drive-in

Graphic by Alan Li

We were barely late to Friday night’s double feature at the Mustang drive-in and it was definitely a sign of good things to come.

The night’s bill included the reimagining of Stephen King’s classic, It and the prequel to the Conjuring’s spin off, Annabelle: Creation.

The show should have felt like an uninspired exploration of the classic tropes of childhood horror; dolls and clowns cast late into the evening onto the silver screen – a trickle of rain might have complicated the mood, admittedly.

What started off as a hasty decision – a no brainer really, given the fact that my seeing It was inevitable – quickly materialized into an ideal fall scenario.

While larger cinemas continuously adapt by trying out new things like VIP movies, adding restaurants in-house and hosting private screenings, it would seem that the singular selling point of an intimate and comfortable setting will always be apparent to drive-in movie goers.

The car was packed with blankets and parked backwards, plenty of snacks and the movie sounded pretty good on channel 104.9. Apparently the factory stereo equipment in my car is on point too, because I could feel the speakers rumble beneath me, mimicking the surround sound feels that I thought were exclusive to larger cinemas.

Needless to say, the allure of the drive-in theatre will probably never be lost on me. Aside from the fact that I feel the need to consistently speak out loud throughout the show, I personally feel like the drive-in is the optimal setting for a movie night.

While the movie-going experience has been enhanced at larger cinemas to meet with demand – including a rising price point to match – it seems like the formulaic drive-in experience has been met with a much different adjustment.

In the 1950’s, when drive-in cinemas were probably at their peak – I wouldn’t actually know because I’m a millennial – they were molded around a very unique experience. You would park, attach the provided radio to your window and hit the snack bar before getting comfy in the backseat.

Likely because of competition, most drive-in theatres have seemingly been forced to reduce operation costs, almost to the point of detriment – not a totally awful thing, but super unfortunate when the fact of the matter is prices continue to soar.

What this means is that while the prices continue to rise at all cinematic venues, a matching rise in the quality of experience has not been seen at your typical drive-in theatre – and unfortunately this will likely continue to be the case.

The price of going to the drive-in for two people sits around $40 – snacks and ATM fees included. While this is relative to a night out at the movie theatre, it also afforded a much more intimate setting … and a double feature.

While larger cinemas continuously adapt by trying out new things like VIP movies, adding restaurants in-house and hosting private screenings, it would seem that the singular selling point of an intimate and comfortable setting will always be apparent to drive-in movie goers.

The featured movies themselves were all but disappointing I should note, with It being the obvious highlight of the double bill – roughly half of the vehicles proceeded to exit the venue as the credits began to roll.

Personally, I will always remember watching the movie It at the drive-in, not because it was a dope movie that did the original a measured amount of justice, but because I saw it at the drive-in.

 

 

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