The Summer of Drive-In Experience

The COVID-19 pandemic had a catastrophic impact on the live events and entertainment sectors we love, with the usual peak ‘summer season’ effectively cancelled. The festivals and concerts we’d bought tickets for were off, the cinemas closed and the huge and highly anticipated summer of sport (with UEFA Euro 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics) quickly rescheduled to 2021.

But as lockdown eased some live event entertainment could resume – albeit with strict social distancing – and the practicalities of operating within restrictions has brought about a worldwide resurgence of the Drive-In!

While open-air cinemas have been around since the 1910s the first drive-in format was established and patented in 1933 by Richard Hollingshead Jnr., who came up with the concept after rigorous testing on his driveway in New Jersey. Projection was the display technology available to drive-ins back then – and is still effective today – but with the advent of high-bright, large-format LED screens in the late 1990s it’s allowed the outdoor movie concept to develop and thrive ever since.

Drive-Ins for a socially distanced society

As people cautiously ventured back out into society the drive-in concept has allowed some light relief after the drudgery of lockdown. Opportunities for live entertainment and a feeling of community have been possible within a controlled environment, with ticket-holders catching up on recent releases or old favourites from the safe setting of their own car.

We’ve supported over 300 drive-in cinema dates across the UK and Europe this summer, and by offering the widest choice of mobile LED displays and modular screens its helped clients to attract and maximise their audiences, while delivering an excellent viewing experience for everyone that attends.

The new-found popularity of drive-in cinema is seeing it become a leisure industry in its own right, with the success of some operators even attracting the attention of film distributors and cinema chains. Drive-in premieres and the broadcast of brand-new releases may become more common, even with traditional movie-theatres re-opening following lockdown.

Not just Film Fans

And its not just outdoor cinema! Creative drive-in concepts have appeared thick and fast including theatre, comedy, karaoke, DJ sets, concerts, strip shows and even a circus.

Some of our clients have combined multiple entertainment genres to deliver a memorable experience, including Car Park Party, a UK touring event that successfully merged the Comedy Club, Horrible Histories and Massaoke Karaoke into an action-packed evening. Car Park Party utilised our innovative iCONIC 60S unit, which not only features a giant 60sqm LED screen, but an integrated stage to host their performers.

Beyond the ‘big screens’ which are the star of the show our services in event broadcast and social media integration have helped clients to boost audience interaction and engagement at their events, with live crowd participation shown on the big screen along with their tweets and selfies.

Beyond the Summer

While summer draws to a close we’re seeing little evidence of drive-in events slowing down. Thanks to the fact audiences can enjoy screenings and live entertainment from their car whatever the weather, organisers are already thinking up new concepts and planning tie-ins with Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas festivities.

The ADI team are on-hand to advise on screen solutions for drive-in events within the UK and worldwide, please contact or call 0800 592 346, alternatively take a look at our fantastic range of products here.


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