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From Drive-In Theatres To Drive-In Drag Shows, The Coronavirus Is Forcing Us To Rethink Entertainment

Let’s face it: Coronavirus fatigue has definitely set in by now. We’re all looking for new ways to pass the time amid a global pandemic, while still remaining safe and responsible. Apparently Netflix and chill just isn’t cutting it any more.

But now is not the time to throw caution to the wind and start going out to bars and restaurants, even if our elected leaders are failing us by encouraging us to do just that.

Instead, grab your quarantine buddies/partners/kids/familia and hit a local drive-in theatre that has instituted Covid-19 measures. From New York to LA and everywhere in between, there are hundreds of drive-in entertainment venues that have popped up amid the pandemic.

Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback thanks to Coronavirus.

Credit: Marco Delgado / Getty Images

Fueled by the need to socially distance and the collective nostalgia for happier times, the comfort food of show business is providing a much-welcome way to consume live entertainment.

Outdoor drive-in theatres (among other forms of shows) have been popping up all over the U.S. – and world. In the era of Covid-19, many are clamoring for some form of entertainment and the drive-in theatre seems to be filling that need.

Local small business owners who have been forced to shut down operations to comply with Covid-19-related social distancing mandates have been reopening old drive-ins or building make-shift theaters in parking lots and showing old movies to customers to make up for lost income.

A giant drive-in theatre has popped up in the parking lot of a Queens, NY diner.

Credit: Jerome Strauss / Getty Images

New York’s Bel Aire Diner launched its drive-in theatre in May and it continues to sell out every night within minutes.

“The first time we put tickets up, which was for The Sandlot, tickets sold out in three minutes and there was over 500 attempts in those three minutes to buy tickets online,” Dellaportas told CNN Business on Friday.

Dellaportas said the Bel-Aire drive-in has become so popular, it’s allowed him to re-hire staff members he furloughed in March after government officials enacted shelter-in-place orders that decimated foot traffic at restaurants throughout New York City.

“Yesterday’s show sold out in under a minute, it was 815 spots,” he added.

In Miami, Carflix Cinemas sees shows sell out in minutes.

Credit: carflix_cinema / Instagram

Carflix Cinemas, which has its own 36 foot LED movie screen, partnered with an indoor amusement park to set up the massive drive-in theatre in the parking lot.

“As soon as the whole pandemic news started, we started trying to figure out what the future holds for us,” Bernal told CNN Business on Friday. “As we saw business declining, we started coming up with more ideas to generate revenue. This was one of the ideas presented by our staff, so we pursued it.”

The theatre is showing the original Jurassic Park and Sonic The Hedgehog to sold out crowds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The parking lot they use fits 175 cars and customers desperate to get out of the house are buying up $30 tickets within hours of going on sale.

Meanwhile, in Mexico City, tickets to the Coyote AutoCinema are being resold for double their original cost.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Mexico City has long been home to the AutoCinema Coyote – it’s a perfect date spot perfectly modeled after 1950s Americana kitsch. Like it legit serves up hamburgers, hotdogs, milkshakes and curly fries. But it too had to shutdown thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, it reopened on June 3rd with special social-distancing measures in place. If you leave your car for any reason, you must wear a mask and capacity is limited to just 30%.

Also in Mexico, an Acapulco hotel announced that it would soon be home to the country’s largest drive-in theatre – with capacity for 300 cars. They’ll be hosting nightly events and will also screen a local film festival in the coming weeks.

And it’s not just movies – drag shows are also going drive-in.

Credit: Dreamland Theatre Las Vegas

Fierce favorites from RuPaul’s Drag Race, including Yvie Oddly, Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Acid Betty, Gigi Goode, Monet X’ Change, Kameron Michaels, Kim Chi, Naomi Smalls, Plastique, Vanessa Vanjie and Violet Chachki—will be performing an outdoor summer concert called “Drive ‘N Drag.”

In cities from New York and LA to Chicago and Seattle, RuPaul’s Drag Race is bringing socially-distanced drag to the masses.

Apart from RuPaul alum, several drag communities are hosting their own drive-in drag shows: there’s “Drive-In Drag Show And Dinner Theatre” across the West Coast and “Drag Drive-In” in Nashville.

Even if they’re popular right now, don’t plan on drive-in shows to stick around for too long.

Credit: transitdrivein / Instagram

Although the drive-in seems to have made a come back and it’s proving successful, many owners say they’re not turning much of a profit. Operating a drive-in is expensive: permits, movie licensing, staffing. Therefore, many operators say they don’t see drive-ins being a long-term viable option, mainly because the Hollywood studios don’t care for them.

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