COVID-19 wreaked havoc on businesses far and wide, but movie theaters experienced some of the worst hurdles due to prolonged closures and films being pulled from release dates and released on streaming platforms instead.
Thousands across the globe had to shut their doors for good while many are still experiencing losses with a slow clientele return.
Though drive-in’s went out of fashion quite a few decades ago, Aldergrove’s Twilight Drive-In experienced a serge in popularity thanks to an already built-in socially isolated component.
Owner Jay Daulat initially sparred with the Provincial Health Office in the early days on the pandemic because of customer limitations, but has since gone to to embrace precautions and a slow and steady return.
“The concern is that the younger staff – mostly teenagers – are still awaiting their second COVID-19 vaccines,” Daulat told The Star. “So we are maintaining social distancing, asking people to wear masks, and keeping plexiglass barriers up in concession.”
He noted masks are encouraged but not enforced.
The drive-in itself is still at 50 per cent capacity to accommodate safety, something Daulat said will be in effect until the very end of August, at least.
400 cars is maximum capacity – meaning there’s still 200 vehicles allowed at each screening.
“That means one car between post markings instead of two to allow space,” the owner explained.
Daulat said he can’t say how people are feeling about indoor theatres about this point, but has noticed people are happy and attendance is good at his business in its peak summer season.
“People are happy to have space and keep to themselves,” he said.
With warm evenings comes flocks of movie goers packing into truck beds, pulling out lawn chairs, and settling in wearing pajamas and blankets.
Major Hollywood releases were delayed for much of the last year – big ones like Dune and Ghostbusters: Afterlife that would have pulled in a big audiences.
“Everything we can get our hands on, we play. It’s a single screen, so now we’re mostly playing new shows as opposed to the older ones we we’re putting on last year,” Daulat explained.
He expects the latest James Bond film – No Time to Die – to be a huge release for Twilight in September, as well as the aforementioned blockbusters.
”F9, the latest Fast and the Furious film, did very well. We’re just ending Black Widow, which was very popular,” he noted.
Despite a changing and turbulent time for the film industry, Daulat assured Aldergrove that the retro attraction – one of three drive-in’s left in B.C. – will be there for a long time to come.
Tickets can be bought at the theatre entrance, but Daulat does recommend people purchase ahead of time online.
More information and tickets can be found at www.twilightdrivein.net.
Twilight Drive-In is located at 260 Street and Fraser Highway.
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