The Stinger Rewind: Drive-In Movies, And How They Are Suddenly Popular Again

With COVID-19 still running rampant across the world, economies across the world are starting to pick up to where they left off. But despite COVID-19 crippling every most small businesses it touches, specific industries grew in popularity because of it. One such business was the drive-in movie theater industry. Once the virus hit the states, movie theaters throughout the country closed, and the option to go see a movie in a theater was no more. However, some drive-in movie theaters remained untouched… Why?

If you have never been to a drive-in theater, basically, it is an empty lot full of cars in front of a large screen, with a projector displaying a movie for everyone to see. Drive-ins were built especially with suburban areas in mind in order to bring the neighborhood community together. Although the drive-in era was coming to a close, they have suddenly risen in popularity once more, due to the fact that no one ever leaves their cars to see the movie. This remains legal and safe because everyone remains socially distant, confined in a bubble in their cars. Incredibly, drive-in theaters are one of the best ways to get collective entertainment despite a contagious virus raging in nearby communities.

Obviously, drive-ins haven’t quite reached their peak popularity in 2020 and 2021 like they did back in the 1950’s, but with only around 300 drive-ins being operational in the U.S., more and more are being created out of what seems like thin air. Many malls and other businesses across the country are converting their now empty parking lots into drive-in theaters to provide some entertainment and excitement during the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, recently closed drive-ins like the Goleta West-Wind Drive-In in Santa Barbara, re-opened and instantly made a comeback due to a lack of public entertainment services. In a time where most businesses are at an all time low, some businesses are recovering from near-extinction.

With the miraculous comeback of drive-ins, a few questions remain. Will these drive-ins continue to thrive once regular movie theaters re-open? Or will the pandemic generate a whole new generation of movie-goers addicted to drive-in movies? One thing is for certain, and that thing is that small businesses, like family owned drive-ins, are surviving and even growing during this perilous COVID-19-period.