Reviving an old classic: the drive-in


Graphic by Isabelle Indelicato

Ally Despathy, Staff Writer

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, movie theaters, concerts, music festivals, and other forms of entertainment that once seemed imperishable have ceased to maintain themselves. 

However, one medium of entertainment has experienced a revitalization during the pandemic—drive-in theaters. The first drive-in was opened in 1933 by Richard Hollingshead. He created it to appeal to people who felt uncomfortable in smaller movie theatre seats.

It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that drive-ins gained enormous popularity. They were seen as an ideal amusement for families and people who wanted an option that was affordable. After the 1960s, drive-ins started losing revenue as they lost appeal. What’s left behind are the memories of drive-in theaters that consist of stories told by relatives and iconic movie scenes from Grease

Our generation seems to want to experience drive-ins the way our parents and grandparents did. Drive-ins are a time machine for us, since we were not lucky enough to experience them at the height of their adoration. We are able to be amused by something classic and wholesome during times that are uncertain and unexpected. 

Now, during these days of wearing masks and living six-feet apart, drive-ins have had a resurgence in popularity. Hollingshead’s concept of watching films from the comfort of your car for convenience purposes has evolved into the concept of watching films from the comfort of your car for the purpose of safety. 

Recently, I went to a drive-in to see Jaws with a few of my friends. People parked their cars at a safe distance from one another and the staff asked movie-goers to stay in their cars. The staff’s concern being tailgating or sitting in lawn chairs before and during the movie. They said that doing so would hurt their social distancing efforts. But, overall, I felt safer going to a drive-in with my friends than I would have going to a movie theatre.

There are currently four traditional drive-ins theaters and seven pop-up drives-ins scattered throughout Massachusetts. That being said, the Boston area seems to be the best place for permanent and temporary drive-in theaters. In the city of Boston, there’s a pop-up drive-in at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Also, some traditional drive-ins that are about an hour outside of Boston are the Mendon Twin Drive-In, and the Leicster Drive-In. These drive-ins seem to be the best places for people searching for a type of entertainment with an undeniable essence of nostalgia and familiarity during this unfamiliar time. 


Other Traditional Drive-In Theaters

Wellfleet Drive-In, about 1 hour from Boston

Northfield Drive-In, about 1 hour, 45-minutes from Boston


Other Pop-Up Drive-In Theater

Kowloon Car Hop and Drive-In, about 20 minutes from Boston

Marshfield Drive-In, about 40 minutes from Boston

Topsfield Fair Drive-In, about 40 minutes from Boston