Drive-In Utopia

<p>Drive-in movie theaters are satisfying a need for public spaces that also allow some privacy.</p>
August 21, 2007, 12pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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"Sometimes you need to actually go somewhere, and some things are simply more fun in public. This might explain the unlikely revival of the drive-in - an experience that splits the difference between the public and the private. After eight years of decline, [Statistics Canada] reported that drive-in crowds spiked by 20 per cent in 2004-2005.

One of the ironies of the drive-in's return is that the very trends that helped kill it two decades ago now drive its revival. The VCR begat the DVD player, which is now a feature in many minivans, acclimatizing a new generation of auto-bound audiences. And while the Route 66 car culture of diners and drive-ins may have been supplanted by big chains, drive-thru services have only proliferated.

Despite its association with fast food drive-thru windows, the drive-in also offers respite from the cookie-cutter corporate multiplex. Drive-ins have a small-town community feel - and some are literally civic endeavours.

But this is the key: Viewers get a fuzzy feeling from watching [movies] with their friends and neighbours because they aren't impinging on their personal space."

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Published on Saturday, August 18, 2007 in The Globe and Mail


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