Drive-in cinemas then and now.


Back to the future as drive-in cinema opens in Dubai


DUBAI – The drive-in cinema that peaked in popularity in the 1950s is making a comeback in Dubai, with Mall of the Emirates hosting its first drive-in cinema on Wednesday (May 13).

Theatres in Dubai have remained closed as part of precautionary measures against the spread of Covid-19. To continue the movie-going experience, Vox Cinemas decided to take the movies outdoors.

Wednesday’s private functioned featured Will Smith’s Bad Boys For Life on a large screen assembled in the mall’s upper parking lot level 3 outside Ski Dubai.

With the drive-in cinema, moviegoers can park their cars, switch off their engines and watch the show while practicing social distancing.

A future schedule of films for public viewing is expected to be announced soon.

The first drive-in movie cinema in the world was opened by US businessman Richard Hollingshead Jr. in 1933.

Jim Kopp of the United Drive-in Theatre Owners Association told Smithsonian Magazine that Hollingshead thought of the idea to help his obese mother watch a movie since she couldn’t fit in indoor theatre seats.

Seeing a business opportunity, Hollingshead opened the first theater for the auto-bound in Camden, New Jersey, with room for 400 cars.

People reportedly paid 25 cents per car as well as per person to see the British comedy Wives Beware under the stars.

The business model became very popular in the 1950s and by the 1960s, there were more than 4,000 drive-in cinemas in the US.

Back in 2020, it remains to be seen whether this old American trend is going to be here to stay as social distancing becomes the new normal for a post-coronvirus world. PIA/Expat Media

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