Stars are returning to the night sky—and not just the twinkly kind. Drive-in theaters might seem like a relic from a bygone era (only about 300 of the thousands from the 1950s remain operational today), but as brick-and-mortar theaters shuttered earlier this year, a handful of open-air locations have reopened, and plans for pop-up drive-ins are in the works at New York’s Yankee Stadium and Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. From California to New York, drive-in operators have noticed a surge in ticket sales at existing sites this summer, with cars forming long lines hours ahead of showings. Here, five drive-in theaters making unexpected comebacks this summer.
The Mahoning Drive-In Theater
Opened in 1949, Mahoning is the country’s only drive-in that exclusively shows 35mm film, and boasts one of the largest CinemaScope screens in the country. Located about an hour away from both Philadelphia and Scranton, the theater screens classic and cult films on twin Simplex E-7 projectors dating back to its inception, and has recently been playing classics such as The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.
Fort Worth, Texas
The downtown Fort Worth skyline peeks behind the movie screen at the Coyote Drive-In, which has been showing blockbuster movies since 2011. This summer, the audience has tuned in on their FM car radios to watch family-friendly films like Shrek 2 and Harry Potter, adrenaline-rousing Jurassic Park, and the teeth-chattering It.
Mission Tiki Drive In Theatre
In 1956, this drive-in opened on Mission Boulevard with a single screen, expanding to four screens in 1975 and refurbishing with a Polynesian atmosphere in 2006. Proudly never shutting down, the Mission Tiki Drive-In has been upgraded with FM transmitters, a new projection system, ticket booths, a concession stand modeled after tiki huts and even a Maui statue garden.
Greenwood, South Carolina
About an hour south of Greenville, South Carolina, Greenwood's 25 Drive-In began showing movies in 1945, but the screens went dark for a few years between ownership changes. In 2008, the McClutcheon family spent almost a year renovating the venue, reopening for good in 2009 and adding two more screens over the years to meet demand. For the complete experience, try one of the theater’s classic cheeseburgers, or bring your own snacks. Unlike most traditional movie theaters, 25 Drive-In allows guests to bring their own food and drinks for a flat fee of $20 per vehicle.
Malta Drive-In Theatre
Malta, New York
A large flashing marquee on rural State Highway 9 announces this drive-in in New York’s Saratoga County, about 30 miles north of Albany. Continuously operating since 1949, the venue has been screening titles such as the crime thriller Infamous and retro classics like Jaws.