In pre-pandemic era Ireland, the mention of a drive-in movie would have conjured up images of 1950's suburban America for the majority of people, and while several drive-in movie theatres already existed across the country, the pandemic really gave them their time to shine. 

This considerable rise in popularity can be contributed to the fact that while public health guidelines closed down cinemas, museums, galleries and other cultural institutions, drive-in movies provide the public with a collective form of entertainment in a way that enforces social distancing, keeping people safe within the protective steel bubble of their car.

The drive-in movie experience also provides an opportunity to rewatch older films that haven’t been circulated on the big screen in quite some time, primarily due to the fact that they aren’t showing the latest blockbusters, but instead screening many timeless classics.

In the US, films such as Hocus Pocus have shot back up the box office, with regular family screenings taking place in drive-in movie theatres across the world, including a number in Ireland. While Hocus Pocus performed relatively poorly in the box office when it was first released in 1993, it has since been elevated to cult classic status within the Halloween film genre, with a sequel in development featuring the original cast. 

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Drive-in movie theatres quickly popped up across Ireland in response to the pandemic crisis (and the resulting cinema closures) with Retro Drive-in Movies creating pop-up venues in Leopardstown, Glenroe Farm and Slane Castle, along with a number of similar initiatives nationwide. 

Aside from providing a means of entertainment, the drive-in movie experience has allowed for a means of social interaction in the midst of an isolating pandemic. Despite being stuck in your car, it can still feel comforting to join other people gathered in this particular location for a common purpose. It’s that feeling of togetherness that you can’t emulate through watching a film on Netflix or a Zoom gig. 

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Although the current level 5 restrictions now mean that the drive-in movie will also suffer the same fate as cinemas, galleries and museums, they are something that we can look forward to returning to once (fingers crossed) the public health guidelines ease up again. Popcorn at the ready...