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The New Drive-in Movies: Guerilla Drive-ins, MobMovs, and Backyard Cinemas

Updated on March 4, 2013
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Laura has been photographing historical, abandoned, and rural ruins in Ontario since getting her first digital camera in 2006.


Drive out to some parking lot, some alley, somewhere kind of anonymous and secret... In the car you have packed blankets, maybe a chair, snacks and drinks. You're all set for an evening at the movies. The new and revised and mobile movies are not like the old drive-in movie theatres.

The new drive-in theatres are open air, located in backyards possibly using a home made screen. They may be mobile, appearing in new locations each time. Some of them may be located in theme appropriate locations, like showing horror movies in a cemetery or some spooky, abandoned place.

The guerilla drive-ins are typically free, though donations are gladly accepted.

The backyard cinemas tend to be small business people who also run DJ and other services. (This is how they have the equipment available in many cases).

The mobile movies seem to be where the idea started. People keep in touch on an email list, the movie is picked and the location is given out - like a secret society.

What Should you Bring if you Go?

Check with the drive-in people and see if you need to bring anything, but most likely you should pack some essentials:

  • Chairs for sitting outdoors.
  • Food, snacks and drinks.
  • Blankets or a warm jacket.
  • A portable radio to hear the audio.
  • Your vehicle, or a seat in a vehicle.

Backyard Cinema SetUp from The Bellefontaine DJ

Backyard Home Theaters - DadLabs Video

Building a backyard movie screen

Drive-in Movie Memories

The age of the drive-in movie is passing us by. They plod along like dinosaurs walking into deep, dark pit. I remember going to the drive-in with my family. We had a station wagon and later a huge van with a long seat for each of the four kids. We brought blankets and snuck in our own snacks but still bought more because that was just what you did when you were at the drive-in.

By the end of the first movie we were sleeping. Sometimes I'd get to see part of the second feature. What I remember most about the drive-in theatre was leaving. It was dark, I was sleepy and I liked the feeling of the car going over the hills and valleys of the parking lot as we wound our way out of all the traffic.

Others may think of the drive-in speakers. The times they didn't work. The time you almost (or did) drive away with one. The new drive-ins have you tune in to a radio station now. No need to keep a window down for the speaker and the mosquitoes to get in.


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    • profile image

      mours sshields 5 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      Great and creative ideas!! I never really thought of anything like this before!

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      If they're small you can just tuck them away somewhere. Empty out a closet or keep the box next time you get a new fridge or dishwasher. The small ones can amuse themselves for ages with crayons and a box.

      I'm trying to think of each birthday as a celebration rather than a detonation of another year. It's not easy to look on the bright side as the numbers creep up to 50. I still feel about 30.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You have a deal, from this point forward I am convinced we are both quite young, intellectually, mentally, and "physically."

      Of course I do have three small grandchildren, but I am a youngish grandmother and could well live to see my great grandchildren. And I am a long way from being able to retire, so actually we are not old, we just had some useful experiences. :)

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      If you start feeling old then I have to start feeling old. So, just don't start. :)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      How very interesting. I had no idea that transient or temporary or backyard Drive-ins were the new thing. Its a great idea. I can seen where it would be fun, interesting and maybe even help with community building.

      Like you, I have vivid memories of going to the Drive In Theater with my parents. Last time I saw a movie at one I was 18 and with a boyfriend, of so many years ago....I suddenly feel quite old. :) Great Hub. Sharing. :)