Once thought lost to the years with the increasing costs of land, the rise of in-home video and the shifting economics of the movie industry, drive
Once thought lost to the years with the increasing costs of land, the rise of in-home video and the shifting economics of the movie industry, drive-in theaters across the country have gained traction once more amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Circle Drive-in Theatre in Scranton, Pennsylvania — the birthplace of Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden — the excitement is palpable, even though the business has hung around for decades.
DRIVE-IN THEATERS PROVIDE ‘NOSTALGIC CONNECTION’ DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
While drive-in movies lost the popularity contest to brick-and-mortar megaplexes and big-screen televisions, the Circle kept itself going with Sunday flea markets and, more recently, live concerts.
Dr. Joseph J. Calabro, the 64-year-old physician who oversees the relic, explained to The New York Times on Saturday that it easily could have shuttered in the spring, like most movie theaters in America.
“If we had just depended on movies, we’d be potentially out of business, because there were no new movies coming out,” he told The Times.
The classic institution has since made adjustments to help moviegoers feel safe, adapting to coronavirus health restrictions and guidelines.
It has widened the spacing for cars and let in only half as many customers as in past years. The concession stand rests behind new plastic shields, and bathroom cleanings have become more frequent.
Although people were initially apprehensive in May, customers gradually began to park, roll down their car windows, and have fun.
“You could see the relaxation of the wrinkles in the corners of the parents’ eyes, and the eyes of the children would go up in a smile,” Calabro explained. “I felt really good. It was a bit of a relief valve.”
Pandemic measures aside, the Circle reportedly remains very much the same as it was in the 1950s and 1960s.
Calabro’s uncle, Michael Delfino, bought the business 57 years ago, and Calabro worked there as a teenager, popping popcorn and filling in as a manager. After Delfino passed away in February at age 98, Calabro took up the mantle.
Like many others, the drive-in now has two screens and broadcasts the soundtracks on FM radio so moviegoers can listen in their cars.
On September 5 and 8, they’re scheduled to show “Bill & Ted Face the Music” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
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While there are still more than 300 drive-in locations for movie-lovers nationwide to visit, there were once thousands.
According to MentalFloss, the first drive-in movie theater opened in Camden, New Jersey, in 1933.