(TMU) — For many Americans, the drive-in movie theater is an icon of nostalgia—even for millennials and younger generations who may not have even visited these bygone cinematic venues.
Drive-ins were a cherished past-time in the 1960s, allowing people to watch films projected onto a big screen while safely chilling in their private cars. However, a number of different factors ranging from the availability of color television, VCRs, and video rental shops contributed to the decline of drive-in theaters.
Fast forward to 2020, and movie theaters across the country have been served crushing blows by the coronavirus pandemic and shuttering of non-essential businesses. The release of such highly-anticipated films including James Bond’s No Time to Die, Wonder Woman 1984, and Mulan have been pushed back while over 40,000 screens across the country have gone dark for an indefinite amount of time.
The crisis is forcing industry leaders AMC and Cinemark into dire financial straits, with the companies mulling bankruptcy or mulling the sale of an enormous amount of corporate debt. Some analysts believe that a quarter of the nation’s theaters could close down for good in the course of the sharp economic downturn dubbed the “Great Lockdown” by the IMF.
The situation faced by the industry is forcing many to look to a revival of the drive-in theater experience as a viable option that allows moviegoers to be entertained in large venues while upholding the physical distancing guidelines laid out by state authorities.
Time to bring back drive-in movie theaters.
— Zach Graumann🧢 (@Zach_Graumann) April 18, 2020
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a daily coronavirus briefing that drive-ins could soon open in the state, reports New York Post. The governor said:
“Where is the public safety issue? It’s a drive-in theater. You’re in the car with the same people.”
There are currently roughly 320 drive-in theaters across the United States with only 25 open for business, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
And while Americans are desperate for some diversion and recreational outings, they appear to be content, for now, with streaming options like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Ticket sales during the crisis have been “steady but not spectacular,” according to The Post.
While drive-ins may have that old-school charm, marquees are just as musty and old—many theaters rely on the classics to sell tickets while the flow of new Hollywood films dries to a trickle and summer blockbusters face an indefinite delay.
It’s a great turn out for the 5:00 PM drive-in movie at Northern Cass tonight. pic.twitter.com/DuY2ucTqJA
— Cory Steiner (@CorySteiner10) April 15, 2020
Overseas, however, crowds have been absolutely flocking to drive-in theaters. In South Korea and Germany, people are even lining up to watch films, with crowds flocking to see both older titles and relatively newer ones.
In Germany, which has only two year-round drive-in venues, open-air theater Autokino Essen has managed to sell out every screening since the country’s lockdown began early in March.
Frank Peciak, manager of Autokino Essen, said:
“It doesn’t matter what we show, people just want to get out and watch a movie … We’re sold out weeks in advance.”
In Cologne, another drive-in theater is also completely booked. The theater allows only a quarter of its 1,000-capacity lot to be used in order to uphold physical distancing rule.
Meanwhile, pop-up options have proliferated to keep up with the demand for entertainment outside the home. Loe Studios, an independent theater in the town of Marl, began screening films on a 640 square foot LED screen it put up behind a barker bar. It’s premiere offering was a double bill of “The Lion King” and “Parasite” which promptly sold out in a matter of hours.
Heiko Desch of theater chain Drive
“In the beginning, the authorities were worried there might be a health risk … but we haven’t had any issues.
“People are told to keep in their cars, except to visit the restrooms, and the entire operation is hands-free.”
Meanwhile in New York, theater managers like Warwick Drive-In owner Beth Wilson hopes that her upstate drive-in cinema can have its nonessential restrictions waived.
“Whatever the state wants us to do, we’re willing to do.
“We want people to enjoy going out, but in a safe environment. If you’re in your car with an average family — two parents in the front seat and two kids in the back — you’re sitting in a car with people you’re with in the house. It’s a little outing.”
However, if drive-in theaters reopen across the U.S. to satisfy demands created by the pandemic, we might witness their rapid decline once the crisis subsides.
Either way, most of us are hoping that we can catch a good film alongside a vibrant audience sometime in the near future.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.