CV19: Drive-In Theaters Seeing Unexpected Popularity Boost Due to COVID-19

March 25, 2020

Photo by AP Photo Chris Pizzello

Drive-in movie theaters are enjoying a small bump in popularity because of COVID-19, since the format naturally allows for social distancing. For example, an Austin-based drive-in called the Blue Starlite has room for 35 vehicles to park, and it's shown films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club in recent weeks. “It makes perfect sense,” moviegoer Jen Philhower told The New York Times. “We can all sit in our cars, away from each other, and do something fun.” A few of the 305 drive-in theaters operating in the U.S. are opening early for the summer to try and give customers something to do, although some are being forced to shut down (or stay closed) due to stay-at-home orders. For example, Stephen Sauerbeck, who owns Kentucky's Sauerbeck Family Drive-In Theater, doesn't seem to be allowed to screen films but he is able to sell popcorn and have his space operate as a de facto place for church.