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The times have certainly changed, but as much as this craziness has forced us to adapt, it’s also made us appreciate pastimes we’ve long forgotten. Sweats have taken on a new meaning, relationships might have more than its usual ups and downs, and we long for activities we haven’t done in months.
It’s also no secret that we are all jonesing for an excuse to leave our houses and apartments, while also continuing to practice social distancing, mitigating the spread of this pandemic. So, what exactly am I getting at? Enter the Drive-in Theater—or should I say, re-enter?
Not very long ago, the drive-in movie theater littered the states, serving as a premium choice for a date night, or much needed bonding time. With the capacity to offer entertainment outside of your living room, while creating a distance from questionable strangers, they offered a phenomenal respite from the couch. Yes, you’ll still be sitting, but you can drop the windows down, and get some fresh air outside of your block’s radius!
We’ve rounded up some of the drive-ins that will be opening in or near NYC (if they haven’t already):
I know what you’re thinking, and despite the name, Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens has set up an open-air drive-in theater in their parking lot. They update their schedule regularly on Instagram, with classic options like their recent showing of The Sandlot, and have put in a number of safety measures in today’s current climate. Tickets are $32 per car, at a minimum of 2 people.
In addition to their screenings, you can order food from the diner to your car through their website, simply by noting your car color and license plate number, and they’ll bring it right to you. I don’t know about you, but nothing sounds better than digging into a pile of fresh blueberry pancakes while watching a movie that feels more like I’m in the theater itself. What could be better?!
This one is a little outside the city (about an hour to be exact), in Warwick, New York. They have been around for several decades, passing hands from owner to owner and have just re-opened thanks to the new policies in place. Warwick also has its own set of COVID-19 safety measures, including maximums for those visiting the concession stand (though they have the option to order through an app) and rules for masks when in and outside of your car.
Their movie options are a mix of recent releases and cult classics. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children and seniors.
That’s right! The Bronx staple that houses one of the two New York’s MLB teams (we won’t get into favorites) is lending their parking lot to a summer entertainment festival they’re calling the Uptown Drive-In Experience. Put together by MASC Hospitality Group, the same guys behind the Bronx Night Market, and the Bronx Beer Festival. Starting in July and running through August, the stadium will play host to dinner service (in your car), live music, drive-in movies, games, raffles, and more.
The team has been working since March to source vendors and create an “elevated” experience for guests to utilize, as a way to get out of their houses and back into society safely. No details are out on where to buy tickets or who their partners are yet, but we do know tickets will be priced by car and you can sign up for updates here.
Yet to open, this option is definitely one to keep an eye out for. The Drive-In Cinema Club is brought to you by their partners at Hot Tub Cinema (who knew that was a thing?) as a safer alternative to the popular summer series, which will likely be unable to move ahead this year for obvious reasons.
Location TBD, but it will in NYC! You can pre-register here for now and they’ll send more information as tickets are available, and the movies announced. UPDATE: This drive-in has been canceled.
The Tribeca Drive-In is put together the last couple of years by the team that handles the Tribeca Film Festival, which was unfortunately postponed this April. This being said, we are positive it will not only be amazing but also filled with surprises and likely some pre-released features. Set at Orchard Beach, it’s set to kick-off on July 9th, and tickets going on sale June 22nd, with the promise of a curated selection of new, classic, and independent films, as well as special music and sports events. Tickets will be free and reserved online per vehicle.
IMAX is also being brought in to utilize its digital re-mastering process, enriching the image and sound of programming. They are also involved in the curation of the program, drawing from its library of IMAX content, so no need to fear a possible dud. Concession-lovers, fear not, as for each event, Tribeca has promised to work with local vendors, while supporting small businesses and creating an experience truly unique to each community. Keep an ear out for individual vendor announcements.
Fair Oaks is located about an hour and 30 minutes outside of NYC and is pegged as an “old-fashioned seasonal drive-in movie theater with two screens showing current selections.” Since, at the moment, there aren’t many current selections playing, they are currently alternating showings on their two screens with one playing “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Airplane” on alternating nights, and the other alternating between “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Wizard of Oz”. They have plans to switch one screen to the recently released “Pete Davidson in The King of Staten Island” and “The Breakfast Club” & (on Screen 2) “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (6/12).
A single car will cost you $20, but they also offer a $40 package which includes admission for your car, a 170-ounce popcorn, (4) 20 oz beverages & your choice of candy. See it all here.
A new addition, Skyline is located up close and personal, making it ideal for those who want a drive-in without too much actual driving to get there. Located at 1 Oak Drive along the East River, the theater offers some old school classics like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Footloose”.
This is NYC, so pricing is a bit higher than other venues, with ticket pricing ranging by car size/passengers as follows:
- Up to 4-Person Car (w/tax): $54.99
- 5-Person Car (w/tax): $64.99
- 6-Person Car (w/tax): $74.99
- 7-Person Car (w/tax): $84.99
They boast a selection on on-site food trucks for food and are open Fridays and Saturdays (aka your next date night). The exciting part about this one is that they also have plans for when the sanctions of distancing are lifted. Walk-ins will be welcomed in the ensuing weeks, with outdoor seating options, so you can drop in enjoy the movies even if you don’t own a car.
Pegged as “the drive-in reimagined”, this new experience will combine a mix of immersive, interactive entertainment from stage-to-car. It sounds like a safe way to enjoy a new form of entertainment while also staying safe in our own cars. They promise a mix of kid-friendly day events, as well as evening and late-night programming for those night owls, including live bands, silent discos, car-a-oke, bingo, and more. They also plan to have food trucks for those hoping to grab a bite while having fun.
They will be in Brooklyn, location TBD, on August 12-23 and tickets are available by car. You can snag yours here!
The Metrograph is a well-known establishment in the LES, launched in 2016 as a callback to the 1920s era theatres. It opened its doors as an independent movie theater at 7 Ludlow with features of “premieres, rare archival screenings (35mm and digital), and special Q&As, for a wide spectrum of audiences, filmmakers, and communities.” Over the course of three weekends in August, Metrograph alongside talent and entertainment company United Talent Agency, plan to add to the newest trend in movie theaters with its Metrograph Drive-In in The Hamptons.
What comes with a ticket at this beachy getaway location? Socially distanced picnic tables adjacent to your car, picnic dinners for two (curated by Michelin starred chef John Fraser), wine and other beverages for purchase, access to the Nova’s Ark Sculpture Park and exclusive takeaways from event partners. Update: In-light of another concert that did not follow COVID guidelines, taking place in The Hamptons this past weekend, the hosts have decided to relocate and delay the start of the drive-in. While they find a new home and date for the series, sign up to receive word on what they decide through the popup here.
Those living in these outer boroughs will be excited to know that Rooftop Films is curating programming in Brooklyn and Queens as well. The Brooklyn Drive-In is located at the end of the scenic pier at Brooklyn Army Terminal (offering a view of the water and Manhattan skyline in case your gaze drifts from the screen) and Queens Drive-In (opening in August) is located at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
Movies begin around sunset (but they encourage you to check times when you purchase as they vary) and like a classic drive-in, you just tune into your FM radio at the station they provide in order to hear the feature. Tickets are per a car with up to 5 passengers per car, starting at $35 and if you have an active pre-existing membership with Rooftop Films, then you should be able to apply a discount to certain events programmed by Rooftop Films. Also important to note, they do not serve food yet, so be sure to pack snacks!
Yep, you read that right! This is definitely our most exciting on the list to date. Coming to NYC for one week only beginning September 16th, Floating Boat Cinema plans to offer a truly unique viewing experience in which the audience will board one of their 12 to 24 mini boats, which hold up to 8 people per boat.
As noted on their site, a ticket means you will have to purchase the whole boat to ensure social distancing on and between boats. Expect a mix of “golden oldies and new releases” that have not yet been announced, but will be when tickets go on sale. Other amenities include free popcorn for attendees, and other movie snacks and drinks available for purchase before you set sail—and be sure to use the bathroom first too! You can sign up here for information once it becomes available closer to the starting date.
As you can see, drive-ins are decidedly coming back in big ways, so if we were you, I would snag my tickets to some of these while they’re hot and available.