One of Australia;s remaining drive-in cinemas is going from relic to much needed source of social relief as Aussies are driven indoors.
One of Australia;s remaining drive-in cinemas is going from relic to much needed source of social relief as Aussies are driven indoors.

Drive-in movies rev back up amid great virus shut-in

Adelaide's sole surviving drive-in is about to come into vogue as a safe haven for families looking to enjoy a movie together.

South Australian-owned Wallis cinemas, which will also keep open its four indoor theatres, plans to expand sessions at Gepps Cross early next month from three to five nights to accommodate an expected surge in interest brought about by COVID-19 social restrictions.

Wallis marketing manager Paul Besanko said the focus of programming was family entertainment. Pixar animation movie Onward is showing, followed by a Vin Diesel sci-fi action movie Bloodshot for adults and start times would move forward to 7pm once daylight saving ends on April 5.

Mr Besanko said the popularity of drive-ins fluctuated but the Mainline at Gepps Cross had been running since 1954, helped in recent times by transforming on Sundays into the Gepps Cross Market.

Film-goer Vicki Best said her family loved the drive-in because it could accommodate everyone down to the family dog. With social distancing in place, it was now a particularly safe place to relax and unwind. "I think drive-ins are a really good option with what's going on; you feel comfortable, you feel safe," Ms Best said.

"You can bring your own food and just mix with the people that you know."

She said families with children should consider it as a circuit-breaker to get out of the house. "I just think we're all going to need to get out, we're all going to need to do something, and this is a really safe, comfortable environment where you're with people you know," she said.

Mr Besanko said movie schedules would ramp up ahead of the school holidays next month, possibly to seven nights a week.

The end of daylight saving would also allow two family movies to screen nightly, with potential for a late adult program on Friday and Saturday nights, he said.

In SA, Palace Nova cinemas has broken with Palace nationally to keep open cinemas in the East End and Prospect, using alternate seating to maintain social distance and upgraded surface hygiene.

"We will stay open for as long as we can in order to bring the magic of the silver screen to the people of Adelaide, as well as support our staff in this trying time," SA manager Karen Karpinski said.

Originally published as Drive-in revs back up amid great virus shut-in


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