Story by Katharine Florence
Photo by Oscar Walsh
Years of neglect towards drive-ins in favor of the modern, indoor, air-conditioned cinemas have taken out a large chunk of drive-in businesses. However, as the coronavirus pandemic forces the closure of traditional movie theaters and other forms of in-person entertainment, interest in these somewhat forgotten attractions have surged. Especially with entrepreneurs trying to meet that demand, pop-up theatres and unconventional experiences are becoming increasingly common in LA County.
The first location, dubbed the Vineland drive-in, lies in the City of Industry. Serving the surrounding community since it’s opening in 1955, it provides the most traditional viewing experience akin to a movie theatre. Instead of repeating classic drive-in movies, Vineland screens newly released movies like the new Borat and Bill & Ted movies. Guests have their pick of several movies, as the drive-in provides four viewing screens. Vineland is laid back and minimalist, as far as drive-ins go, with a typical concessions stand, an empty parking lot, and a screen to project the movies onto. Because the energy is so relaxed and it’s rarely crowded, visitors would likely be able to watch from a trunk or hatchback with no problems. The entrance price is $10 per adult, $4 for five to eight year-olds, and kids under five years of age are free, making Vineland the cheapest option. It’s not an awful experience in the slightest, but you get what you pay for, which is the movie, and that’s about it.
Holding slightly pricier, more overtly L.A. indie drive-ins, the Los Angeles Arts Society has set up shop at the Gardena Cinema in the South Bay. The organization screens cinema staples like E.T. and Ferris Bueler’s Day Off, as well as popular cult classics such as Donnie Darko and American Psycho. Typical movie theatre concessions, such as popcorn and soda, are provided at their snack stand. To enter, viewers must pay a one time $30 per vehicle entrance price; however, the price is subject to increase to as much as $50 as the date of the event grows closer. The Garden Cinema is pet friendly, however, if attending a popular event, the lot gets tight and viewers are somewhat confined to their car.
Streetfood Cinema has stepped up to the plate in providing the ultimate movie experience complete with extensive dining options and social distancing coronavirus precautions. This event holder switches up its location every month and has hosted their events at locations such as the Americana in Glendale and the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. This coming month, movies will be screened at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas. Cars are instructed to park six feet from each other so viewers can comfortably get in and out of vehicles without breaking social distancing guidelines risk of covid. In comparison to the other drive-ins, Street Food Cinema, with invested employees and goodie bags of popcorn and water, was certainly the most coordinated. The events bring in around a dozen food trucks, including ice cream, burgers, and Vietnamese. However, in exchange for the experience, attendees have to pay a hefty vehicle price of $20 and an additional per-person price of $8 in addition to the price of food.
Drive-ins are a classic throwback and could be enjoyed simply by those standards; however, they’ve become an unexpected solution to the current limits on physical interaction. Those looking for more of an experience or a night-out should consider attending the Street Food Cinema and take advantage of their favors and food trucks. On the opposite end of the spectrum, for those just itching to relieve their cabin fever and see a movie in a similar setting to a movie theater, Vineland is a great and cheap option to fulfill those needs. As a good compromise, LA Arts society offers out of the box extras with a relatively laid-back environment.