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Outdoor film screening at sunset

Summer Movie Season

Sam Vuchenich from FRUKT L.A discusses how drive-ins and outdoor screenings make even bad movies worth the trip.

Summer movie season is synonymous with blockbusters—and, for many of us, memories of trips to actual Blockbuster locations, making an otherwise uninspired night somewhat eventful. And if you were really lucky, you occasionally piled into the car to the drive-in, a local film-centric adventure and another reason to be thankful for the family minivan.
I’ll never forget the unparalleled joy of seeing Back to the Future sequels and so many other films at the drive-in, occasionally falling asleep before the second movie had started. 
As you might guess, Southern California has been home to many drive-in theatres, past and present. If you’re looking for similar ideas, venues large and small host numerous screening series in L.A. alone—Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Eat See Hear to name a couple.

Though arguably any time of year is now Superhero Movie Season, the ever-hyped Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse (May 5 and May 27, respectively) more or less mark the official start of a film season that rarely shifts the spotlight from a frenzy of special effects. 

Still, that splashy predictability means an opportunity for a change of scenery for film audiences in the summer.
Studios should take note: If they’re going to keep cycling through franchises and remakes, they can at least put some heart into the movie-going experience. Though concerted efforts to attract audiences to drive-ins and similar alternative venues may not please major studio partners at cinema chains, there’s opportunity to add excitement to a film’s release and differentiate one mass of CGI from another.

While not superhero movies themselves, Independence Day, the Men in Black films, and franchises not associated with Will Smith suit the drive-in mood, splashy and adventurous and best seen projected onto a huge outdoor screen, with your best-preferred seating arrangement and less offensive ticket prices.

I saw the first Independence Day at the drive-in, and Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24) feels tailor-made for that experience. Even if you’re not typically interested in big-budget violence like Jason Bourne (July 29), or action-comedies like Central Intelligence (June 17) and Ghostbusters (July 15), a change of venue could provide enough incentive to tag along with family or friends. And the LEGO movies past and future certainly aren’t the only kid-friendly films perfect for the drive-in.

Focusing a promotional push for a new movie (or several) toward these venues could prove mutually beneficial, rewarding the most committed audiences with a memorable, self-curated experience, while matching spectacle films to their best possible atmospheres. Plus, it’s an argument for Warner Bros. to give everyone a LEGO set of a drive-in movie theatre.