Drive-in cinema

90 Years of Drive-In Cinema

The drive-in cinema: where nostalgia meets modern entertainment!

For nearly a century, the drive-in cinema has been an integral part of American culture, providing families with a unique entertainment experience. Starting from its humble beginnings where people would park their cars and watch movies on a large screen, to the modern-day drive-in theaters that offer a diverse range of entertainment options. This cherished tradition has been passed down from one generation to the next.

On June 6, 1933, brothers Richard and Maurice Hollingshead opened the first drive-in theater in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The Hollingshead family had been in the automotive business and the concept of a drive-in theater had been around for a few years, but the brothers were the first to put it into practice. Originally designed to cater to those who found it difficult to sit in the small cinema seats, the first movie shown at the drive-in was the British comedy “Wives Beware”, with a cost of 25 cents per car. The theater was a huge success and has been ever since.

The popularity of drive-in theaters soared across the United States and eventually expanded globally, becoming a beloved pastime for people worldwide. During the mid-20th century, they particularly resonated with the Baby Boomer generation, offering a one-of-a-kind experience where audiences could watch movies in the comfort of their own cars and interact with others. As the years passed, these theaters evolved to include more than just film screenings. They transformed into vibrant social venues, attracting families, couples, and groups of friends seeking to enjoy live music, delicious food, and exciting events.

Throughout its history, the drive-in theater has faced both highs and lows. One of its most challenging periods was during the 1970s oil crisis, when people downsized their cars to save money, making it difficult and uncomfortable to watch movies in their vehicles at the drive-in.

Despite these setbacks, there are still numerous drive-in businesses operating across the United States and around the world, although they are not as popular as they once were. Thanks to digital technology and modern sound systems, a drive-in theater can now show the latest blockbusters, classic movies, concerts, and much more. It is a nostalgic experience that is beloved by generations of people and continues to provide a unique experience for moviegoers.

The drive-in theater has a rich and storied history spanning 90 years, making it a cherished cultural institution worldwide. Despite facing various challenges and changes, drive-in cinemas continue to offer a unique and extraordinary way to enjoy movies, transcending borders and cultures. So why not gather some friends and family, jump in the car, and relish in the timeless and cherished drive-in cinema experience?

Stationary screens are still used for drive-in cinemas but can be expensive and time-consuming to set up. Pop-up and inflatable cinemas are becoming more popular, and our AIRSCREENs provide a fast and easy solution. Inflating an AIRSCREEN takes less than an hour and can be done alone. By using AIRSCREENs, drive-in cinema events can be set up quickly and efficiently, making them the optimal choice for movie enthusiasts looking to create an unforgettable cinematic experience.

Free COVID-safe Australia Day drive-in cinema

Getting out of the house to enjoy a concert or a movie night under a starry sky has been no simple task since the Corona virus spread throughout all over the world. Drive-in theaters are a COVID-safe way to escape from isolation and enjoy some entertainment with your family and friends. This year the Ku-ring-gai residents could enjoy a free COVID-safe drive-in cinema event on Australia Day. Ku-ring-gai Council is a local government area in Northern Sydney, Australia. The region is named after the Kuringgai tribe who one inhabited the area.

Drive-in cinema in Ku-ring-gai Council
AIRSCREEN® drive in Ku-ring-gai Council

The Council’s family event was cancelled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions and the organizer found another solution. The Ku-ring-gai residents were invited to come together to reflect, respect and celebrate some unique Australian stories on Australia Day. The recently released Australian film “Go!” was played on the double-sided AIRSCREEN® drive (12m x 6m) on this special day.

Double sided AIRSCREEN® drive in Ku-ring-gai Council
Drive-in cinema with the double sided AIRSCREEN® drive

The AIRSCREEN® drive is a double sided inflatable screen and perfect for drive-in movie nights in the age of social distancing. Up to 300 cars – 150 cars per side – were accommodated at the showground for this free screening. A great advantage of the double sided AIRSCREEN® drive is that two different or the same movies can be played at the same time. The viewers were allowed to bring their own food to the drive-in cinema or choose some delicious street food from one of several food trucks.

Street food from food trucks at the drive-in cinema event
Delicious street food at the drive-in cinema

The film is about a boy who overcomes tremendous odds to achieve his dream of winning the “National Go Kart Championship”. Moreover it is a high-octane Australian family film with heart. Produced in Western Australia and highlighting the dusty landscapes, Aussie tones and overall tenacity.

Australia Day Movie GO! was played on the screen
The movie GO! on Australia Day

For more information about drive-in cinema systems please visit our website or get in touch with our Australian partner – Be Productions or send us a message to make your drive-in cinema event happen!

For more informations about Ku-ring-gai Council and St. Ives Showground, please check out the webpage or Instagram account.

Comeback of drive-in cinema amid Coronavirus

The drive-in cinema has always been a special event for everyone. Whether a romantic movie night for a couple or an exciting activity for the whole family. Such concept goes beyond ordinary indoor cinema experience and shakes up your daily grind.

Despite all this, it has been a while since the drive-in cinemas reached their peak in the ‘50 with around 4,000 theatres across the United States. Now there are just over 400 theatres still operating in the US. 

Drive-in cinema with AIRSCREEN classic (9.15m x 5.15m)

However, this might change soon as drive-in cinema is about to make a huge comeback amid coronavirus pandemic in many countries. While indoor theatres as well as any other entertainment venues fear permanent closure, drive-ins bring a breath of fresh air for everyone who wants to escape from isolation and enjoy some pleasant moments with their loved ones during difficult times.

The key point is that being in a car you can still meet social distancing guidance. You are also allowed to bring your own food and drinks while tickets can be purchased online only to avoid any unnecessary social contact with other persons. Such concept is going to set the trend for the next months attracting more and more cinema owners and entrepreneurs from other fields in an attempt to adapt their business to changing market conditions.

AIRSCREEN 16m x 8m in Münster

Trying to meet expectation of our customers, we are pleased to introduce a special AIRSCREEN drive 9m (30ft) with two screen surfaces for up to 200 cars (100 cars per each side). Of course, you can also get everything you need for your drive-in cinema in one place: all AIRSCREENS can be complimented by a suitable projector, FM-Transmitter and adapted to individual needs. Now every parking lot can easily and quickly be turned into a drive-in cinema theatre.

For more information about drive-in cinema systems please visit our webpage or send us a message.

Driving north – Drive-in cinema in the Netherlands

The Amsterdam open-air cinema season has drawn to a close for this year ending with a spectacular drive-in event in the city.  Over 8 days spectators were treated to a diverse selection of films including ‘Blues Brothers’ and ‘Thelma & Louise’ all shown on a giant 12 x 6m (40′ x 20′) inflatable movie screen.

There were over 60 cars in attendance as well as a large number of walk-in audience members who came by foot or in true Amsterdam style by bike. Guests were not only treated to blockbuster films but also DJ’s ensured that the musical atmosphere was equally as exciting for those in attendance long after the film was over. Guests didn’t even need to get out of their cars to pick up refreshments, but instead ordered whatever they desired via SMS from the comfort of their cars and their food and drink was delivered straight to their vehicle.

For more information on drive-in or open-air cinema in the Netherlands visit

Reflections After Dark

Click here for Ron Gilbert’s “Reflections After Dark, Memories of the Drive-In”. A stunning story about life at the movies.

Drive-In with AIRSCREEN

Iconic, nostalgic, romantic.

Since 1933 drive in cinema has been a unique and charming way to watch the latest films. The first ever took place in the Camden Drive-in, New Jersey, USA. Ever since this moment the founding stones of car park romance were laid.

It did take a bit longer however, until the idea of the drive in really took off. The 1950’s were the boom years for the drive in with the convertible cars and Cadillac’s lining up in front of the screen to watch James Dean and his superiors.

And the reason as to why the drive in is still as popular as ever? Freedom. In your own car you can do what you want, in comparison to contemporary multiplex cinemas. You can bring your own snacks, smoke cigarettes and turn the sound up as loud as you like as the sound comes direct through your car radio. Enjoy the beauty of Hollywood without in your own space.

But as in line with drive-in of the past, one of the best reasons to go to the drive in cinema is to go with your partner. Where else can you have a relaxing and entertaining evening out in your own chair?

Drive-in cinema with inflatable movie screen
Drive-in movies on top of a parking garage.

All that you need in order to start your very own drive-in cinema is space. Everything else you could possibly need is provided by AIRSCREEN and their sales and rental partners. With an inflatable screen any space can be turned into a drive-in with very little time and effort. Start your drive-in and profit from many years of experience from the world’s original inflatable screen company, AIRSCREEN.

Click here to download the drive-in cinema brochure including all components to start your own drive-in cinema.

2 thoughts on “Drive-in cinema

  1. Es increble su proyecto y primeramente se pueda aplicar en varios lugares y ciudades con los que no cuentan con una distracción completamente sana y en apoyo a nuestro ambiente. Bendiciones

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