At the moment of writing this, the overwhelming majority of movie theaters remain closed. As a result, new film releases have been pushed back indefinitely, with some major movies skipping straight to VOD. But there is one movie theater that has still managed to show new releases without fear of physical contact: a local drive in theater in Ocola, Florida.
The Ocola Drive-In has only closed twice in it’s history, both for hurricanes, and has been a staple for the Ocola Community. Owner John Watze has found it easier to maintain federal re-opening guidelines than other theaters as a result of people being isolated in their own cars during the screenings. Watze’s business has been so busy he’s “had to turn away cars” and was even able to secure new releases like Trolls: World Tour by spending the last three weeks calling major studios strapped for cash.
Watze sees his business potential becoming a normalized form of entertainment, rather than the novelty it has been for the last decade, “I really think this virus could be the rebirth of all the drive ins,” he said during an interview, “People really need some stability in their life. Mental stability is as important as physical stability.”
With movie theaters being such an entrenched staple of American life and culture, it’s not unreasonable to see people going to drive-in theaters, which are now much safer than the typical theater thanks to viewers not having to sit together. Whether these revenants of the past make a comeback is yet to be seen, but this news is definitely something to keep an eye on.