Florida’s drive-in movies are a social distance gift

Florida’s drive-in movies are a social distance gift

DADE CITY — As the fight over face masks and freedom rages, some pillars of Americana light up when the sun goes down. They never knew we needed to touch so much. They were always fine with distance. Consider Florida’s drive-in movie theaters. There are seven left, relics lost to changing tastes and technology. Much has been made of the nation’s drive-ins enjoying a coronavirus boom, but that’s a movie loosely based on real events. Chip Sawyer started working at the drive-in at 15. Now at 27, he’s president of his family’s Sun South Theatres, which includes Dade City’s Joy-Lan Drive-In and Lakeland’s Silver Moon Drive-In. He loves to talk about drive-ins. His locations host flea markets and have experimented with food trucks. But drive-ins are not exactly a growth industry. More movie studios are bypassing theaters entirely. The virus shut down Florida drive-ins along with everything else. Now that they’re back, Sawyer says, fewer people are hitting the snack bar for popcorn and cotton candy. The business is not as simple as projecting a movie on a wall. The theater pays studios up to 60 percent of box-office sales. When Disney puts a four-week minimum on the new Star Wars and there’s only a screen or two, it cuts into repeat visitors. And yet, the regulars come. New guests are coming, too, looking for a reasonable reason to leave the domestic cocoon. Patrons gather at the Joy-Lan Drive In to watch a screening of Footloose on Thursday, May 22, 2020 in Dade City. [LUIS SANTANA | Times] You don’t feel safe yet, but every day, there’s pressure. Socialize. Patronize. Mundane things feel like a protest you didn’t sign up for. Everything is political. Everything is fraught. But the drive-in. Well, that sounds lovely. You head to the Joy-Lan, […]

Original Post www.tampabay.com

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