Hollywood Road Trip: Drive-In Movies Make a Comeback

Due to the pandemic, people are antsy to find ways to get out of the house. One interesting development this summer is the drive-in movie theater. In Los Angeles, numerous drive-in experiences have popped up all over – from the Pasadena Rose Bowl to a Thai restaurant.

Though drive-ins arrived in America in the 1910s, the first patented drive-in was opened on June 6, 1933, by Richard Hollingshead in New Jersey. The solution was for people who couldn’t fit comfortably into smaller movie theater seats. After creating a mini drive-in for his mother, Hollingshead advertised his drive-in as a place where “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.”

Twenty years later, drive-ins continued to gain in popularity during the 1950s and ‘60s with the Baby Boomer generation. There were over 4,000 drive-ins throughout the U.S. and most were located in rural areas. And just like now, drive-ins were popular space for families to spend time together as well as an affordable date night option.

Today most charge anywhere from around $30 a car plus a ticket purchased for each person in the car to $50 a car including snacks and bites. The movie’s sound is streamed through the radio.

While we greatly miss Rooftop Cinema Club and Cinespia at the Hollywood Cemetery,  this new novelty seems like it is here to stay in Los Angeles – as long as there is a pandemic.

Date night? A night out with the kids? The drive-in movie feels like a night out!

Check out where to Cruise in (and buy tickets in advance) as well as movie line-ups HERE. Other locations you may want to consider are the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, Valley-centric films at Westfield Fashion Square mall in Sherman Oaks, multiple venues with Street Food Cinema, Ventura County Fairgrounds, and micro-drive-ins at Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas. A few spaced out options without a car include Melrose Rooftop Theater and rooftop movies at The Montalbán. Learn more HERE.

Recently, Chevrolet sponsored Drive-In at the Park at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu along with other locations like Castaic Lake Park, which is still offering drive-in movies through September.

Chevy hosted us at our first outdoor movie complete with BBQ delivered straight to our 2020 Bolt EV, an all-electric vehicle loaner we enjoyed buzzing through Malibu. With 259 miles of range we never once had to charge the car during a week of grocery store visits, shopping, and drives to hiking spots.

EVs are perfect for drive-in movies because all the electronics (including A/C) work perfectly for hours, with plenty of power on tap. While other cars around us would start their engines periodically to maintain cool A/C, we stayed comfortable the entire movie.

From our roomy trunk, we gorged ourselves on ribs, mac and cheese, and bbq chicken before the movie as the sun set at the ranch. Surprisingly, for such a small car the front window is huge and expansive along with the side windows so I didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. Even the back seats are roomy. The big dash touchscreen makes it easy to control music options too. We squished right in front and center at the drive-in and while reversing out, the Bolt EV rearview mirror can turn into a video with HD cameras. Introduced in 2016, Chevy has been at the forefront of bringing an all-electric vehicle to the masses.

What can you expect at the Drive-In during COVID times?

Safety protocols are implemented like masks must be worn when leaving the car, vehicles must be parked 6 feet from each other and you must view the movie from inside your vehicle. Social distance of 6 feet is expected if outside your car and restrooms run at 50% capacity and are often cleaned regularly thanks to bathroom attendants.

A nostalgic and cultural icon, the resurgence of the American drive-in may be something that is here to stay – post-pandemic.


2 thoughts on “Hollywood Road Trip: Drive-In Movies Make a Comeback

  1. Enjoyed reading drive in to see a Hollywood movie. What an experience to eat & watch a movie. A novelty which we don’t have yet in India. After the pandemic is over LA is now a. must visit.

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