A drive-in theater based in Tiffin, Ohio that was originally built in 1949 may soon be seeing up to $200,000 in upgrades and improvements.
In Modesto, California, plans have been announced to bring up to date the Ceres Drive-In theater, which was first opened in the 1940s, but finally closed down at the onset of the Great Recession in 2008.
In Florida, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival just opened a drive-in theater at the Pier 66 Hotel, overseeing Port Everglades.
New drive-in theater construction as well as the resurrection of existing drive-ins, according to analysts, have a distinctly 2020 feel.
The drive-in theater venue, notes USA Today, is enjoying a comeback “as a way to have an in-person viewing experience while adhering to social-distancing guidelines.”
Such theaters are largely a staple of the late 1940s and 50s when a post-World War II population explosion combined with a giant increase in car ownership.
Between 1947 and 1951 nearly 4,000 such theaters were built, a number that increased yearly into the mid-1960s.
Today, according to the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association, based in Stephens City, Virginia, there are just over 200 such operating theaters in the country, comprising a total of nearly 550 screens.
While nearly a quarter of such theaters are located in the Midwest and California, states in the West have always enjoyed a thriving drive-in movie presence.
The drive-in owners association lists nearly 22 operating theaters today in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.
Industry analysts believe that the Covid-19 onset has made such entertainment offerings more appealing, with expectations that additional drive-in theaters will be either re-opened or newly built in the next year, once their commercial viability is demonstrated.
Work is expected to begin later this year on what is being described as the largest drive-in theater in the world. Hollywood filmmaker Spencer Folmar has announced plans to build a five-screen drive-in that will go up on just over 70 acres in Eustis, Florida.
By Garry Boulard
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