Making Your Own Home Drive-In And Enjoying The Best Drive-In Movies For National Drive-In Movie Theater Day

During the 1930s, drive-in theaters began to pop up all over the United States. The first one popped up in Camden, New Jersey on June 6th, 1933, and it was created to solve the problem of comfort. The creator of this theater came up with the idea after his mom had complained to him that going to watch a movie in an ordinary theater was just too uncomfortable. With the drive-in theater, people didn’t have to worry about uncomfortable seats. They could sit comfortably in their car, or in a fold-up seat that they brought, and watch the movie underneath the stars.

At the time, tickets to these theaters were a quarter per car, which even back then was quite a deal —especially since you could bring a whole car full of people with you to watch the movie. The popularity of these theaters exploded after World War II, and by the 1960s, there were over 4,000 drive-in theaters in the U.S. It was a great way to watch a movie and many Americans enjoyed watching movies in this way.

Unfortunately, during the 1970s and 1980s, the popularity of drive-ins went into a period of decline. Theaters began to close and eventually dwindled to become a shadow of their former numbers. For a while, it was thought that drive-in theaters would all go extinct, but there are a few remaining theaters left in the U.S. At the time of us writing this blog, there were about 325 drive-in theaters scattered all across the country. Whether these theaters remain open into the future, only time will tell.

Interest in drive-in theaters is beginning to rise once again. Some people are lamenting the fact that they can’t go see as many movies as they did in the past, and other people who never were able to enjoy these theaters in the first place, are wondering what the experience is like. And that is why we decided to write this article today.

Just in time for National Drive-In Movie Day, we thought it would be fun to talk about how people can replicate the drive-in theater experience where they live. It’s not that difficult to turn a driveway or a backyard into an impromptu drive-in theater where friends and family members can enjoy the best drive-in movies. After we cover the equipment needed to do just that, we’ll then cover what we feel are the greatest drive-in movies of all time. Admit it, it sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Making An At-Home Drive-In Theater

When we say that people can replicate their own drive-in theater, we have to say that there are a few caveats that have to be considered. After all, a lot of things really depend on your budget, and how much space you have. You also have to consider that if you built a backyard “drive-in” theater, you might not be able to park your car back there. In those instances, you can capture the “drive-in experience” with lawn chairs. With that disclaimer in place, let’s look at some of the equipment needed for a home drive-in.

Portable Movie Projector

One of the first things a person is going to need is a portable movie project. Companies like Sharper Image and Kodak all make great portable projectors. Some of the high-end models can cost up to $500, but there are plenty of high-quality budget models that cost under $100. All can be used quite effectively to project movies.

Portable Movie Screen

If people don’t have a big budget for a drive-in build, they can always use a white sheet, or the side of their garage to project movies on. However, we think a standalone movie screen can really improve the experience. There are models made with cloth or plastic, and other models that are inflatable. Both of these types will cost anywhere from $90 to $200.

Portable Bluetooth Stereo Speakers Or FM Transmitters

The video for a movie is only one part of the experience. People also need high-quality sound to complete the cinematic experience. Fortunately, Bluetooth speakers are pretty cheap nowadays, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to get some for your outdoor theater.

If you don’t want to use Bluetooth speakers for each car or seat, you can also use an FM transmitter so that people can listen to the movie through their car stereos. FM transmitters don’t cost a lot of money and are easy to set up and use.

Proper Power Source

One thing to consider before beginning your drive-in theater build is how you’re going to power it. Some people may want to use long, outdoor-rated extension cords to power their movie setup, while other people are going to want to use a generator. No matter how you plan on doing it, remember to take into consideration all of the equipment you’re going to need to power and plan accordingly.

Comfortable Seating

Don’t forget the seating. For some drive-in movie setups, people are going to want to make sure that they have ample parking for the cars that they’re going to use to watch the movie. However, people who are setting up in their backyard, are probably going to want to just use comfortable outdoor chairs to watch their movies.

Drive-In Decor

The final step to completing your own drive-in theater is the proper décor. This can easily be obtained from various websites on the Internet. There are marquees, signs, and other pieces of decoration that can really transform an outdoor space into something truly reminiscent of a drive-in theater.

Pick A Movie

Of course, people have a seemingly endless number of movies to choose from. There are new movies released all the time, and then there are the classics. Since we’re trying to recreate the nostalgic feeling of old drive-ins, we thought that it would be fun to list the best drive-in movies of all time. So, let’s do that. We feel that the below drive-in movies contribute the best to the old-timey drive-in experience that many people are looking to capture.

Concession Stand

Last but not least, we can’t forget about the heart of any drive-in experience — the concession stand. No movie would be complete without providing popcorn and drinks to the people watching the movie. That’s the bare minimum, so make sure that you have a way to make good-quality popcorn. We recommend a quality air popper, or if a person can afford it, a full-size popcorn machine.

Quality movie popcorn oil is also important. Products like Snappy Butter Burst or Orville Redenbacher’s Popping & Topping Buttery Flavored Oil can really elevate the quality of your movie theater popcorn.

Of course, people can also provide their movie patrons with nachos, ice cream, candy, or anything else they want to offer. Remember, it’s your own personal theater, do with it what you like to make the best possible movie-going experience for everyone.

Best Drive-In Movies Of All Time

  • Bullitt (1968)
  • Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
  • Vanishing Point (1971)
  • American Graffiti (1973)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • Star Wars (1977)
  • The Car (1977)
  • The Evil Dead (1981)
  • The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) (1981)
  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • Back To The Future (1985)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Independence Day (1996)