Drive in movies: The new normal

Jacob Ashkar '23, Photographer

Families gathered under the stars to watch the film Halloween at the Ford Drive-In.
(Jacob Ashkar ’23)

With hundreds of movie theatres closing nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, people of all ages have been looking for new ways to socialize and have fun while being safe. One way people have managed to leave the house safely is by attending drive-in theaters. In light of this, Carl Gianagni created a drive-in theatre at Freedom Hill as an attempt to bring in people safely.

“We make all the parking spaces 15 by 20 feet so everyone has their own designated space to keep everyone safe,” Gianagni said. “Also, guests are required to wear masks when leaving their designated space.”

These measures ensure that all necessary precautions are put into place. Having these extra regulations has not lessened the interest of their audience, but rather brought more people in with the reassurance of safety. Megan Robert ‘23 recently went to a drive-in and gave a good idea of how it can still be enjoyable when just sitting in your car away from others.

“I actually really enjoyed going,” Robert said. “It was nice just being able to sit in the back of your car while watching on a giant screen. Also being able to just connect your radio for the sound so it feels like it’s right next to you.”

Even though you’re watching with a bunch of others nearby, you still get a feeling of comfort in your own vehicle. In contrast to indoor movie theaters, the drive-in allows you to go on your phone and talk with your friends without disturbing the other movie-goers. Not only do drive-ins appeal to teenagers, but people of all ages including adults and children have been found enjoying their time at one.

“A lot of families have come in, and for some of the scarier movies we do get younger people as well,” Gianagni said. “It’s really a mix just depending on the movie.”

With many companies losing profit or even going out of business due to the coronavirus, drive-ins have been able to take this opportunity to grow their business and make more money. This actually brought Carl Gianagni the idea to open the Macomb Country Drive-In at Freedom Hill with hopes of gaining profit. Rosalie Nykanen ‘23, along with other movie-goers, noticed drive-ins gaining a bigger audience than usual.

“It was nice, but it was actually pretty busy so you kind of had to be careful,” Nykanen said. “It wasn’t too hard to find a spot but there wasn’t much distance between parking spots.”

This can bring a downside to drive-ins during a time like this. It can be less convenient because cars do take up a lot of space making it hard to manage. Drive-ins nowadays obviously have a lot to keep up with, from regulations to something as simple as what movie to premier, for Gianagni it can end up being a lot to handle.

“I just try to pick a movie that will end up selling tickets,” Gianagni said. “I check Rotten Tomatoes and other dating sites to see how they did, just to figure out what the people want to see.”