Exeter, Devon UK • Jun 15, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Screen The Return of the Cinema: Social Distancing Brings Back Drive-in Cinemas

The Return of the Cinema: Social Distancing Brings Back Drive-in Cinemas

Bridie Adams looks back to a happier time of cinema going, and wishes for a return to a room with a Vue
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The Return of the Cinema: Social Distancing Brings Back Drive-in Cinemas

Drive-In Theater, Film, Presentation, Canvas, Fun
Drive-in cinema photo by Markus Distelrath

Bridie Adams looks back to a happier time of cinema going, and wishes for a return to a room with a Vue

Going to the cinema has always been one of my favourite things to do. Whether it be with friends, family or a date, you can’t go wrong with a good trip to the movies. I don’t mind watching pretty much any new release, from rom-coms to horror to the latest Disney film, I’m really not fussy as long as there’s sweet n salty popcorn and Tango Ice Blasts involved. So, of course, I’ve been missing cinema trips during this lockdown, and have been compensating with copious amounts of Disney+ and Netflix. But it’s hard to replicate the feeling of being sat in a cinema with a loved one (or by yourself – let’s normalise going to the cinema alone!) waiting for the film to start, wondering if it’ll be a flop or a masterpiece.

Some of my most memorable cinema visits have been to see La La Land, my favourite film of all time and Toy Story 4, which was the first film I saw at the cinema with my boyfriend. I love small local cinemas near my home in Herefordshire, specifically The Savoy in Monmouth, The Palace in Cinderford and The Gateway in Ross-on-Wye. I think the atmosphere is so much more welcoming and cozy than in Odeon or Cineworld cinemas, despite the smaller screens and less plush seats. However, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy the convenience of having a day out to my local Odeon and a cheeky trip to the Nando’s across the road from it afterwards.

I wouldn’t mind being “stranded at the drive-in” if it meant I could watch movies with a bit more atmosphere than I might get from the comfort of my bed or my sofa

I can’t wait for cinemas to return. I can’t wait to be back seeing the latest films in an environment aside from my flat. And, to be honest, I’m pretty excited about the notion of drive-in cinemas growing in popularity if a ‘normal’ cinema experience is impossible for the foreseeable future due to social distancing measures. It is, of course, as important as ever for us all to continue trying to stem the spread of COVID-19, and drive-ins seem a safe and easy way of reintroducing cinemas without the risk of spreading infection in a crowded, indoor venue.

Drive-in cinemas were extremely popular in mid-twentieth century America, as we see in the iconic drive-in scene in Grease. Unlike Danny Zuko, I wouldn’t mind being “stranded at the drive-in” if it meant I could watch movies with a bit more atmosphere than I might get from the comfort of my bed or my sofa. In a nostalgic blast from the past, drive-ins are making a comeback in America, with the Ocala drive-in in Florida being a prime example.

Not only do I miss cinemas, but also the theatre and live music. Perhaps bringing back socially distant cinemas, like drive-ins, will be the marker of a return to some kind of normality when it comes to ‘live’ entertainment like movie viewings, plays and concerts. Open air cinemas (and performances of plays and music) are also an option, provided people stay two metres apart while watching.

Even if drive-in cinemas last beyond the coronavirus crisis, and become a staple part of our culture like how they were in America years ago, I would be pretty happy. However, as nice as watching a film from my car, vintage-style, sounds, in a funny way I am looking forward to being charged extortionately for premium seats and cinema snacks (that I could definitely buy in Tesco for a quarter of the price) again at some point soon.

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