While on vacation, the last thing I want to think or write about is all the unpleasantness in the world. If I’m having fun (and, presumably, I am!), why not my loyal, dogged, faithful, persistent, lovable readers? (After all that flattery, why not check out my SubscribeStar page, hmmm?)
My local paper ran a story on Monday about the discount cinema in Florence, the Julia 4. Because fun is outlawed in The Age of The Virus (yes, yes, I know I’m at Universal Studios—it’s a joke), we can’t see movies anymore. The Julia’s solution: become a drive-in theater.
Apparently, a number of theaters have gone in this direction. Here in South Carolina, we’ve long had The Big Mo in Monetta, South Carolina. Now indoor theaters are going retro out of necessity, as social distancing makes attending the movies impractical (and, at least here in South Carolina, they haven’t reopened yet, to my knowledge, at the time of writing).
According to the article from SCNow.com, Julia owner Alvin Kennedy opened the theater originally as a discount theater option for working families. The idea came to him after taking his daughters to the movies, which drained him of cash.
Now he’s filling another need: the need for us to eat buttery popcorn while watching movies on a massive screen. Yes, yes, we all have massive televisions now and access to millions of flicks on various streaming services. But nothing compares to the experience of going to the movies, overpriced though it may be.
For my family, going to the movies is something of a ritual, especially for my younger brother. There’s a precise method of maximizing various deals and reward points, allowing us to fleece the fleecers (although, as with casinos, so with movie theaters: the house always wins). There’s the elaborate choreography of who is going where and using which Regal Crown Club card to redeem what item. Someone—a lucky person if we’re early, an unfortunate soul if we’re cutting it close—reserves seats while the concessions crew pays $2 to upgrade that free small popcorn to a large.
It’s refreshing and reassuring to see a small business find a clever and fun way to recreate that experience. I have yet to go to a drive-in movie, but it surely captures some of the magic of attending the concrete multiplexes of my youth, all while enjoying the sticky sweatiness of being stuck in a car for two hours.
Hmm… maybe I should go in the winter.
Regardless, I’m sure it’s some old-school fun for the whole family. That’s something we could all use a lot more of these days.