News and Commentary

Business Is Growing At Drive-In Movie Theaters, Report Suggests

   DailyWire.com
Baltimore, UNITED STATES: TO GO WITH AFP STORY- Cars full of movie goers are lined up and waiting for the main attraction to start at Bengies Drive-In Theatre 20 August 2005 in Baltimore, Maryland. Bengies is the biggest theatre on the East Coast with a screen measuring 52-feet by 120-feet and in its 50th season of movies under the stars. "It's a real-life, honest-to-God, all-American, drive-in movie theater," said D. Edward Vogel, who owns and runs the property in a shabby suburb of Baltimore on the US East Coast. Only 400 or so drive-ins survive in the United States, relics of the post-war Baby Boom era when car prices dipped within reach of average families, long before DVDs, multiplex cinemas and video games gobbled up the entertainment dollar. AFP Photo/Paul J. RICHARDS
PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

Amidst the Trump administration’s recommendation that Americans avoid gatherings with more than 10 people, the drive-in movie theater industry is reportedly experiencing some growth in business. 

According to The Los Angeles Times, drive-in owners across several states have reported increases in business, even while accounting for coronavirus mitigation strategies, such as limiting access to food stands or other areas where people may congregate. 

“It has been a welcome relief for families and adults looking for a little getaway from the house,” a drive-in owner in Southern California told the news agency. “We’ve been trying to let people know that we have a safe environment and [offer] a little escape.”

According to the National Association of Theater Owners, there were 559 drive-in movie screens across the country during 2019, up from 534 screens the previous year. 

By contrast, there are 40,613 movie screens at traditional theaters – approximately 89% of which are temporarily shutting down amid the coronavirus pandemic, reports The New York Times

While some drive-in theaters have temporarily closed as a precaution, the new agency reports that other owners believe the unique business model, which doesn’t require movie-goers to ever leave the car, may be well-suited to meet the public’s entertainment needs. 

“The city is allowing fast-food drive-thru businesses to stay open,” another owner told the news agency. “I am making the case [to the city] that we are similar to them.”

According to CNBC, President Trump held a virtual meeting with fast-food chain executives Tuesday evening, during which the president reportedly obtained commitments from 13 organizations they would remain open for drive-thru, pick-up and deliver orders. 

“They have been fantastic,” Trump said in response to the meeting, reports the news agency. “They’re keeping it open, smaller staffs. Very capable people, very capable companies.”

While the drive-in movie industry may be experiencing a boom in business, at least temporarily, the movie theater industry as a whole has been taking an economic hit from closing locations across the country. 

As The Daily Wire reported Tuesday, the National Association of Theater Owners has requested a bailout from the Trump administration, citing movie theater owners’ inability to keep theaters solvent while the industry rolls to a halt. 

“The Trump administration is considering loan guarantees and other benefits for the airline industry, which is composed of huge corporations and salaried workers,” said John Fithian, chief executive of the organization, reports the Times. “We would ask that they also consider the movie theater industry, an important part of the cultural fabric for our country, and our 150,000 employees who are hourly workers.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration has requested a $50 billion bailout for the airline industry. The money would be supplied as a loan, and industry executives would have their pay limited until the loans were paid off. 

The Trump administration has not yet responded to the movie theater owners’ call for a bailout, and it is currently unclear whether the administration will be receptive to the organization’s plea.