Project Drive-In: Possibly pointless renaissance for American drive-ins
ZOD knows there aren’t nearly enough stereotypes about lazy Americans spending too much time in their cars, so it’s a good thing Honda and Sony are sponsoring something called “Project Drive-In” in an attempt to #SaveTheDriveIn, which is not exactly trending on Twitter even though it has been tweeted (in sponsored posts) by such noted celebrities as Will Ferrell.
Ferrell tweeted #SaveTheDriveIn on Sept. 27, the day after the ABC News affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee reported that a nearby drive-in would be closing down because Hollywood no longer puts movies out on 35mm film, and it doesn’t have the equipment to show anything else. On the other hand, there’s an all-digital drive-in scheduled to open in New Braunfels, Texas, next summer, another drive-in making a digital switch in Connecticut, and Project Drive-In, in addition to urging Americans to visit their local Honda dealership parking lot to watch a free drive-in movie, is also pushing to convince drive-ins to switch to digital equipment (presumably made by Sony) before 35mm movies disappear forever.
(Photo above: In this July 26, 2013 photo, Maddie Essig, left, age 10, watches a movie with her sister, Claire, age 6, from the tailgate of their parents’ car at Bengies Drive-In Theatre in Middle River, Md.)
You can still smoke at the drive-in:
American drive-ins had their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s and have been declining ever since. This has been blamed on everything from VCRs and DVDs to high real-estate values, but these folks desperately trying to keep drive-ins relevant in the 21st century are overlooking the most important part of the drive-in movie experience: you don’t just drive in your car, you stay in your car. For the whole movie.
Photo: Two cars sit in the Port Drive-InÂs lot during a showing of Johnny Be Good. The Port Drive-in, along U.S. Route 220 in Linden, south of Williamsport, Pa., on July 27, 1988, struggles on with poor attendance while numerous others are being sold as their real estate values rise.
That was a perfectly cromulent business model in the 1950s when cars had enormous interiors equipped with seven-foot-long bench seats wide enough for two (statistically much skinnier, in those days) teenagers to canoodle. That doesn’t work with passengers strapped into today’s individual semi-ergonomic space-capsule seats and besides, thanks to the much-heralded Decline of the American Family, if today’s teenagers need a private place to Do It, they generally have much better options than a drive-in.
(Photos: the great outdoors: In this combo photo, high winds wrecked the huge screen of a drive-in theater in Sikeston, Mo., (left) for the third time on Oct. 16, 1961. So the owners put up a sign (right) reporting the fact with the title of the Gone with the Wind film classic.)