For movie lovers, it’s been a long couple of months. Will a big-screen dose of “Trolls World Tour” and “Doolittle” for the little ones or “Bloodshot” and “Bad Boys for Life” for action-loving adults help?
While indoor theaters are still closed, the family-owned Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-in Theatre in North Ridgeville opened Tuesday for its 56th season ... with lots of caveats and precautions to keep people safe. The drive-in’s April opening was postponed because non-essential businesses could not operate during the statewide shutdown.
“It’s a real relief to be open and try to get back to some sort of normalcy,” owner Deb Sherman said. Her family opened the drive-in on the family’s property on Lorain Road in 1965.
To make sure the drive-in’s customers and 16 part-time employees are protected, tickets must be purchased online, she said. For the first time ever, customers can bring their own food and beverages if they’d like to avoid contact with others. Food and drink can also still be bought at the theater, but has to be ordered online during the movie. Patrons will get a message to pick up their orders at the concession stand when ready.
Buses or cars with large groups will not be permitted and only one vehicle will be allowed to park between each radio pole. Capacity has been cut from about 500 cars to 250, Sherman said.
Porta-potties are being added to help reduce congestion in bathrooms.
“Our biggest concern is the safety of our employees and customers,” Sherman said, noting that customers won’t be required to wear masks but will be strongly encouraged to do so when they’re out of their cars.
In addition to health concerns, Sherman is worried about the summer movie season as a whole. “A major concern for us is how many movies will come out during the season,” she said. “There’s no new product coming in whatsoever.”
The theater relies on the money it makes during the season to keep the drive-in afloat during the offseason, Sherman said.
The film and theater industry has been heavily impacted by coronavirus closures. All movie premieres have been postponed. In March, The Hollywood Reporter predicted that the industry would lose about $5 billion in revenue due to theaters being closed.
Sherman is excited to get back to doing what she loves and believes that her business can provide a much-needed break from life inside the home.
“Having something like this open is important because it gives the residents of our community the chance to go out and do something again,” she said.
To purchase tickets and see showtimes, go to https://www.autoramadrivein.com/.
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