The Drive-In cinema is the greatest example of a solution you never cared for. In the 1930s, in a New Jersey suburb, the throwaway complaint of a mother too big to sit comfortably in theater seats sparked a moment of brilliance.
James Hollinghead affixed a Kodak projector atop his car, draped a sheet between two trees, and turned his automobile into a portable sofa for his mother.
Outfitted with radio speakers and ramps to keep the screen visible, the invention was patented two years later. The great symbol of America’s post-war boom, drive-in movie theaters and their star-lit stars made Hollinghead a wealthy man—and became the hotspot for teenage dates.
But rising real estate values over the 70s also made the popular, late-night-only business model impossible to justify. With open-air surroundings remaining as inviting (and clean) as ever, COVID-19 turned the remaining drive-in theaters into unlikely survivors: old-school joints able to offer the communal big-screen experience while audiences needed it most.
Now, with that great plague behind us, there’s more opportunities to travel than ever before. With the adventure issue in full-swing, A RABBIT’S FOOT asks one question: was the drive-in a flash in the pan? Or are there some places that are always worth the journey?
Dade City, Florida. $6 a ticket.
16414 US-301, Dade City, FL 33523, United States
Florida. Home of guns, gators, Disneyland and Donald Trump.
As manic as any trip through the Sunshine State might be, it’s worth taking a jaunt just to see the state’s greatest dinosaur: Joy-Lan Drive-In. While many drive-ins perished, this venue didn’t get the memo. Having opened its gates in the small outskirts of Dade City in the year 1950, it still plays movies 70 years on.
Older than your average retiree, this banana coloured slice of cinema is a charming mainstay of Dade City (and a piece of American history). With a range of first run movies and double features available five nights a week, this simple single-screen cinema is an ideal pitstop for cinephiles looking to go back in time.
Tune in to the venue’s local FM (93.1) and pretend to be in the movies before you drive into town.
Head to city’s nearby Colt Creek State Park for a horse-ride.
Google the area’s murder rate.
Play the Florida Man game.
Skyline Drive In
New York City, New York, $55 a ticket (up to seven people per car).
1 Oak St, Brooklyn, NYC, 11222, United States.
Great trips don’t have to be far. They don’t even have to be natural. Sometimes all you want is cinema with a view, and if that view is a good film and the Manhattan skyline bathed in a cherry sunset—you’ve done pretty well. Located in New York’s hipster-mecca of Brooklyn, the Skyline Drive-In plays a range of classic and cult movies every night, with river views and a concession stand for hot food at a pinch.
Tickets aren’t cheap at $55, but if you’re popular enough to smuggle a family of friends in a van (and can accept Hollinghead’s portly mother might turn in her grave) it’s not beyond the pale either. Really though, this is the perfect date spot. A classic, sunset boulevard, drive-in and drive-out date spot. The view here is so good in fact, they don’t just watch films, they shoot them there too.
Clean your car.
Think about American Psycho.
Tell your date you just got back from Florida.
Los Angeles, California. $20 a ticket.
6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038, United States
Location, location, location. Real-estate agents might think there’s a magic to it. But certain places have a constant pull.
Based in Hollywood, for over 21 years Cinespia is an L.A organization that has hosted charming drive-ins across the greatest outdoor locations of the Tinsel Town: from Hollywood Forever Cemetery, The Greek Theatre to the Los Angeles Historic Park. Across that shimmering L.A triad, for $20 a piece, you really couldn’t ask for a better venue to park up for your movie experience. Provided, of course, you’re adjusted to L.A’s godawful traffic.
And for readers who really do have their feet to the pedal, Halloween is playing next October. $20. Right on Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Now that’s an experience that can’t go out of style.
Leave a copy of A RABBIT’S FOOT lying around.
Become a struggling actor.
Across South-East England, United Kingdom, £25 a ticket.
Various, United Kingdom
Yes all the good ones are in America. In fact, all the drive-ins are basically there. They invented it. It’s a gigantic flat supercontinent dedicated to movies and muscle cars. If you don’t like that, drive over there and complain.
But if you do want something more local, we do have a runner-up. If you’re across the pond (or big on swimming) in the UK, Luna Cinema is a sterling option.
Like Cinespia, venues change here. And while, no, it’s not strictly a drive-in, this ever changing outdoor cinema is the perfect excuse to park yourself by new patches of grass (and the occasional castle). Movies are feel-good classics and big ticket Oscar winners.
Watch Romeo and Juliet this September by Lincoln Castle this September.
Ask about Brexit.
Cinema Paradiso. Cour Carrée du Louvre, Paris. Tickets are free.
Open July each year. Absolutely massive screen and right by the Louvre, you really can’t miss it. Available for just one all too brief Summer month.