Outdoor Cinema: A New Era
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about entertainment and how people spend their free time, particularly how that has changed over the years in terms of watching movies. From the old days of drive-ins and outdoor cinemas, to the arrival of modern home cinemas and the rising popularity of projector screens, they have all played their part in history.
There’s no denying that these days, as we generally live in a world of high-cost living and continuous consumption, as well as being subjected to an ever relentless stream of fear-riddled media, whether it be radio, television, magazines or social media, most people spend more time at home than ever before. The days of getting together with neighbours or spending an afternoon in the park with the family are getting few and far between. For some people it’s a distant memory. As sad as that is, it’s something that has slowly become the norm.
If you were to ask your kids if they fancied going out to the cinema (or theatre depending on where you come from) to see a movie, they would probably jump at the chance, but if you drove out parked up among a huddle of some sixty or seventy other cars, all facing in the same direction before a huge outdoor TV, chances are, your kids would think they were caught in some bizarre far-fetched dream. But in fact, it wasn’t all that long ago when going out to the drive thru on a Saturday night was just as excitable as an evening at McDonalds or the local cinema.
The Drive-In Theatre
On 6th June, 1933, the people of Camden, New Jersey got to enjoy an evening with a difference: the first outdoor drive-in theatre experience for a whopping cost of 25 cents. As novel as this was, the drive-in didn’t take off fully until the advent of –in-car speakers ,which were introduced in the early forties. By 1958, the number of drive-ins peaked at 4,063. The fact that people could sit in their cars, they could bring their babies, they could smoke. Drive-ins offered more flexibility than indoor theaters. It was a roaring success. Then came the decline, which was down to several factors:
The Cars: In the 50s and 60s, while American car culture rose to an all time high, a huge shift in trend occurred after the oil embargo of the late 70s. Consumers shifted their focus towards smaller, less comfortable cars, making the drive-in experience less enjoyable.
The introduction of the VCR: As technology allowed people to time-shift and watch movies from their homes for the first time in history, there was less need to go out to a theater in general. Through the 80s, there was a boom in home movies and the variety and sheer scale of availability had a drastic effect. The drive-in slowly started to lose its appeal.
The increase in movie theaters: Movie theaters sprung up everywhere in the late 80s-2000s, and adding thousands of screens meant that the closest theater was now much closer than it used to be. That made it more difficult to coax movie-goers to more inconvenient drive-in locations.
Since then of course we’ve seen huge technological developments: from the introduction of CDs and DVDs, through to Blu-Ray and the whole three-dimensional experience of modern times. TVs have also developed dramatically to a higher degree in a lot of cases. Most kids nowadays would possibly have to question just what they were looking at if presented with an old TV set with a ‘back’ to it. We’ve gone through flat screens, plasma screens, LCD screens, LED screens, Smart TVs and all kinds of things. In an era of mass consumerism, people hardly notice it.
But will it ever revert? Well it may have started to. I was speaking to a good friend recently whose business is to move around the country setting up his huge inflatable 5 metre x 3 metre ‘airscreen’. It’s basically a huge projector screen that works hand in hand with a state of the art projector. He his words he does ‘gigs’ all round the country, often at the high-end beach resorts on the coast who put on special entertainment evenings for vast numbers of guests and celebrity visitors. The money involved is eye-raising to say the least.
Recently he was having talks with the local governor about hosting and serving an event whereby the local people could arrive at the venue (a large local government building) on or in their vehicles and watch a well put together show about their history, culture and music, along with refreshments and announcements from special guests. Well it looks like it’s going to happen and it also looks like it could set a trend for the future. As this is a developing country it’s a case of delivering a novelty that I’m sure, will be greatly received.
For personal use, there are now many smaller scale versions of what my friend has now available, which are perfect for family gatherings, birthdays, BBQs, bands and the like. Here’s a link to a great website with some exceptional deals: http://www.used.forsale/projector-screen-4-3
Anyway thanks for reading guys, until next time..