The movie world is changing. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, cinemas around the world have been forced to shut down. Some possibly even for good. But amidst this turmoil, something interesting happened in the US: Drive-ins started flourishing again. Yes, those entertainment throwbacks that most of today’s generation had never experienced in their heyday, and which most probably didn’t even know were still around, saw a remarkable uptick in business as they allowed families to have a night together at the movies while observing social distancing protocols as they never had to leave their cars. It’s the perfect entertainment answer for today’s crazy world, and now it’s also heading back to Cape Town!
Just over a week ago, Mother City Drive-In made waves in local news when co-founder Lyle Masters revealed that the organization planned to bring back the drive-in cinema experience to Cape Town. Speaking to CapeTalk, Masters stated at the time that they had “been playing with this idea for a long time” among other business ventures, but “the pandemic forced us to put our events on hold and prioritise this.”
Masters and co were still in very early discussions around the endeavour so couldn’t offer much in details other than the facts that they would look to accommodate between 100-150 cars, and that they intended this platform to be used not only for movies but also offer “opportunities for bands, DJs, singers, comedians and food trucks to make a bit of income during these tough times.”
In a follow-up post on their official Facebook page yesterday though, Mother City Drive-In has finally released some further details. These include their approach to pricing, where tickets can be purchased, and how they won’t have a single fixed venue but rather travel between locations periodically to make the experience available to more people
Straight off the bat, we have to address the pricing as a quick look at the comments show that this has caught a few people by surprise. Starting at R249 for a small vehicle with a max of two occupants, with an extra R99 for every additional passenger, is not cheap. One of the biggest appeals of drive-ins back in the day was were their super low cost when compared to cinemas. Of course, what you lacked in price back then, you also lacked in quality as picture clarity was often determined by weather and/or time of day, and a single tinny speaker you had to dangle inside your car window made for crappy sound.
Mother City Drive-In is looking to offer a better experience with bright and colourful LED screens so movies can be displayed all day, and sound broadcast through FM radio straight to your car’s sound system. Also, in case you haven’t been to a cinema in the last decade or so, movies are expensive. This is pretty close to normal cinema pricing, with IMAX and Prestige/VIP being considerably more expensive. Plus, chances are you will probably be allowed to bring your own snacks which means no additional exorbitant refreshment costs.
It’s also been explained in the comments to the original Facebook post that while Mother City Drive-In doesn’t have a list of confirmed venues yet, any tickets purchased now already will be valid for any venue closest to you. I’m not sure the logistics of that will even work, as they have no idea of how many cars will turn up on the night and thus may have to turn people away.
Things are still in the formative stages though, so hopefully these kinks can be ironed out soon. The Goodwood Showgrounds Drive-In in was a cultural landmark in Cape Town until it closed in the mid-90s. Some of the best movie memories of my childhood were experienced there. There are so many people that have never experienced the magic of a drive-in (my wife being one of them) and I really hope Mother City Drive-In can correct that. Hopefully, over the coming weeks, we’ll hear more info, and that this becomes a regular fixture again.
Last Updated: June 5, 2020