DIY Drive-in Movie: How to Enjoy a DIY Drive-in Movie in a Rental (or Your Own) Car

How to Enjoy a DIY Drive-in Movie in a Rental (or Your Own) Car

Drive-in Movies and cars go together like Thelma and Louise, or the Kardashians and drama, you just can’t imagine the one without the other.

There are only around 300 operating drive-ins left in America, and if you don’t happen to stay near one, you have a really good excuse for a road trip, or to set up your own DIY Drive-in Movie. In this post we will run the credits on whats, whys, and how comes of this iconic form of social distance friendly entertainment.

Car Rental Reviews can partner you with the perfect rental company, and car, so that when the movie ends, you are the one driving of into the sunset

Tips For A Great (DYI) Drive-In Movie Experience

Do you remember the good old days when drive-ins were for fooling around, and watching a movie? Well, things have changed a bit, haven’t they?

The drive-in movie is by no means a new concept in the United States. In 1958, the United States had over 4,000 drive-in theaters, and they were one of the best ways to entertain families. During this time, until around 1960 or so, drive-in movies were at the height of their popularity, especially in rural areas.

Let’s face it – there are few things better than a drive-in movie in the summer. A blanket, some popcorn, and a car – and you are basically set. Car Rental Reviews can help with finding you the right vehicle, and to see where you can find a drive-in movie theater you would like to visit, is the oldest website dedicated to drive-in movies. Carry on reading to learn how you can organise your own DIY Drive-in Movie experience.

DIY drive-in movie

Drive-ins have a vintage atmosphere that everyone loves and today, drive-in screens and sound have evolved into easy to use plug and play, high quality devices that make setting up a backyard theatre super easy. If you have already planned a road trip for the upcoming holidays, make sure that you detour somewhere and take in a drive-in movie, and some old-time nostalgia. If you happen to have teens, our post Road Trip With Teens: What to Do on a Long Car Ride?, might help you retain a semblance of sanity during this trying time!

What Makes a Drive-In Movie Great?

A (DIY) drive-in is the perfect social distancing event! It is also pretty easy to prepare for a drive-in movie, whether you are DIYing it at home, or hopping in your car and going it, old-school style. Why not combine a road trip with a night out at one of the dwindling numbers of drive-in movie theatres in America? No car? No problem – Car Rental Reviews will hook you up with the perfect set of wheels for the upcoming holidays.

So what is all the fuss about drive-in movies:

DIY drive-in movie

Technically, you can bring in anything you want – so you can even grab a pizza before you enter. There are however, concession stands with affordable prices, and this is also what keeps many drive-in theatres going, so support them if possible.

You will find that in general, a four-person family will pay about $35 – $45 for a movie and snacks – now, here are a few tips for making your drive-in movie experience a memorable one:

  1. Dress comfortably – One of the advantages of drive-in theaters is that nobody looks at your clothes. If you want to be more comfortable, wear your pajamas., or wear a superhero costume if you wish.
  1. Bug spray is essential since summer is bug season. Even if you roll down the windows instead of sitting outside in your lawn chairs, you’ll spend some time outdoors. Make sure you pack bug spray so that you don’t feel like you’re in the jungle watching Tarzan.
  1. Make sure you have comfortable chairs – Even if you plan to sit in your car or on a blanket, you may still need chairs. Being seated the same way for two movies can become tiresome. You should bring blankets and pillows if you plan to sit in the back of a van, SUV, or truck.
  1. Covid protocol. Customers must stand six feet apart and use different entry and exit doors, while staff members are also required to wear face masks.
  1. Keep cash on hand in case – Although some drive-in theaters are closing during the pandemic, others are still able to serve food but with limited capacity.
  1. Check the website for information about food/grills, dogs, etc., as each drive-in theater has its own set of rules. In 2021, there will still be some constraints in place so that there is enough space between cars, in lines, etc. These constraints help to keep theaters open.
  1. Pre-order your tickets and arrive early – Tickets for popular shows will sell out quickly, so order early! You may be able to reserve parking at some theaters but it is much better to arrive early to get the best spot.
  1. Portable Radio – Side window speakers are unfortunately a thing of the past and most drive-in movies broadcast the soundtrack on FM transmitters. A good portable radio and extra batteries or a power bank is highly recommended. This way you save your car’s battery, as well as fuel. Having a mobile speaker/radio means you can enjoy the movie comfortably from … well wherever you want to sit.
  2. Do not forget the snacks, drinks and other yummies – for some healthy road trip meal ideas, our post Healthy Road Trip Meals and Snacks: What Are Your Choices?, will help you to stock your cooler perfectly. Due to the pandemic many concession stands have closed, and establishments relaxed their food rules a little, but check the movie’s website, and as I said before, try and support the concessions if you can – it is some people’s only source of income.

How To Enjoy Drive-In Movie Nights

Ladies, it might be time to brush off your Notebook, and gentlemen, if you feel the need, the need for speed, then I suggest that you start planning a drive-in movie night. If you carry on reading, you will see how easy it is to arrange a DIY drive-in experience, and we give you tips for a happy and comfortable experience. It’s always better on the big screen, don’t you agree?

By now you’re probably browsing to find the nearest drive-in movie theatre near you, right? So, what do you do if the closest drive-in is not really that close, and you are just so not in the mood for a road trip? Well, you can always turn your driveway or backyard into your own DIY drive-in movie. Incidentally, this is what the next section is all about, after we look at some super luxury accessories for a truly VIP DIY drive-in movie escapade.

Drive-in Movies – How the Other Side Does it?

For the average American who visits a drive-in, there is always a little planning, a little buying, and a lot of fun to be done. Our accessories are rather straightforward as you can see in some of the sections of this post. Our Toyotas, Hondas and Chevys are superbly adequate for us, but what do the people with high figures and many zeros on their bank statements take to the drive-in?

There are quite a few vehicles that offer super luxury options for drivers, and drive-in movie lovers. If you are looking at upgrading to something more luxurious, or maybe you’re thinking of an EV or SUV, Car Rental Review has the perfect rental partner, and vehicle to choose from. But, if you are thinking of creating your own experience, the next section should put the picture in focus for you.

Create Your Own Drive-In Movie Experience

The good old days… When gas was cheap, girls were coy, and if you wanted to spend some time outdoors at night, you went to a drive-in movie theatre…

Like we mentioned, drive-in movie theatres are few and far between in 2021, so what can you do if you are yearning for a great story to unfold on a larger than life screen, and with pandemic restrictions in place? Someone once said, “If you build it, they will come”, so get creative. You can make your own field of dreams in the backyard, or lawn of a complex (with permission of course).

To make this a success, there are 5 elements that you need: A power source, a video source, a projector, a screen, and a sound system: 

  1. Power – You will get a better quality video and projector experience by plugging them into AC power. However, battery-powered setups are more convenient. A small and quiet generator won’t interfere with the sound and costs very little to run.
  2. Projector – This is probably where I wouldn’t skimp on the budget. Find the best quality projector that works for your situation. Some projectors have flash-memory slots, but connecting any device that can output a video file should work. Remember that it is illegal to show DVDs sold for home use.
  3. Source – Flash memory slots are sometimes available in projectors, but you can connect any device that outputs video and is compatible with your projector. Make sure to test, and re-test before your guests arrive.
  4. Screen – Your environment and budget will affect the size of your screen, but you should aim for a screen that is one sixth the distance from the audience to the back. Walls, large sheets, tarpaulin and any large flat, white surface can act as a screen (and hopefully win an Oscar – wink). Try to think of ways to stop fabric screens from fluttering in the wind, like painting them with white paint!
  5. Sound – Back in the day theatres only had one choice – speakers connected to a wire system. Then came FM Transmitters and suddenly your radio became your speakers. You have the same choices – invest in a cheap FM transmitter, or use large speakers or boomboxes (and make sure all the neighbours are invited).
DIY Drive-in Movie, The End

Whether this is your first drive-in movie exploit, or perhaps it’s just been quite a while, I hope this post on how to enjoy a DIY Drive-in Movie in a rental (or your own) car is helpful. Pick your movie, then pick a car from Car Rental Reviews.