Outdoor entertainment takes over movie theater industry


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Outdoor theaters play “Trolls World Tour” at the Four Brothers Drive-In Theatre amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Local students and families head to Showboat Drive-In, just outside of Tomball.

Covered in piles of blankets and sitting in the bed of a pickup truck with a face mask on, people turn to drive-in movie theaters prepared to stay safe and watch a film in the great outdoors.

Amid the outbreak of COVID-19, movie theaters closed leaving little options for entertainment outside one’s home as enclosed spaces presented a risk for the spread of the virus. Drive-in theaters that faced closures early in the pandemic were suddenly boosted in their business during the summer of 2020 without their competition. This is changing in the present as indoor theaters re-open.

“I think they[drive-in theaters] would be really fun, and it’s the best way not to spread COVID if you want to go out with your family or by yourself,” senior Angelique Mendez said.

Houston’s Showboat Drive-In Theater has four main COVID restrictions for all customers. The main rule is that masks are required when outside of your vehicle at all times. The second rule is that vehicles must be six feet apart. Being strict on this policy, lot attendants use a six-foot pole to verify this separation. Thirdly, guests must remain within the width of their vehicle and a minimum of six feet from other guests. Lastly, the playground area is closed indefinitely.

“Any prevention is better than nothing,” senior Minahil Mehdi said. “Wearing masks outside is going to reduce the risk of infection. However, if there’s no one around people don’t necessarily have to wear a mask. I think you should be able to judge that for yourself. But the rule could have been made in case someone was refusing to cooperate and risking the spread so it could be in place for situations where people need to be kicked out.”

Limited to nighttime and certain weather conditions, drive-in theaters are not for everyone. While regular movie theaters may provide a modern and bugless environment to watch a movie, some enjoy the outdoor experience better once in a while.

“I love drive-ins, but you can’t really get that immersion of the movie like you do at a regular movie theater,” senior Melissa Damien said. “Drive-ins are fun to experience and get a retro vibe, but there’s a reason we developed movie theaters.”