By Julie Ham East Brunswick High School
and Amelia Semple Northport High School
Drive-in movies have been experiencing an increase in popularity, popping up in mall parking lots, beaches and parks in the United States while more people plop down on couches and stream movies right into their living rooms.
These are two of the ways that people are watching the latest flicks in the COVID-19 era — and they are at once a nostalgic visit to an old practice and a timely innovation in a hyper-technological society.
Jaylan Gates, a rising freshman at the University of Maryland Eastern, gave a good review to his first drive-in movie experience.
“It was an interesting vibe, they had a snack bar to use at your convenience so it was a very comfortable space and I felt at home,” he said.
In the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County alone, 16 drive-in movies were scheduled for the months of July and August — as well as nearly 30 drive-in concerts.
The method works twofold. Not only does it uphold safe social distancing rules, but it also allows for townspeople to enjoy the presence of members of the community that they’ve most likely haven’t seen or encountered since the start of state mandated quarantine.
For the event, movie go-ers are required to pre-book tickets online. Audio is streamed in via a radio signal so that each car can have its own surround sound. Some places have also hosted food trucks in the area which you can order online from to form an all-immersive, near-movie theatre experience.
“It feels as if we are in older times, I love the beauty of it all and watching it outside with the people you love is really a euphoric feeling!” said Fatiha Tazrin, a rising senior at Robert H. Goddard High School in Ozone Park, NY.
Conversely, there are telltale signs of people embracing more of modern technology as encouraged by social distancing guidelines, especially with streaming services.
“The advancement of technology and the existence of more diverse and exclusive entertainment on multimedia combined with the lowering price of many streaming services compared to real life entertainment and the budding social norm of watching a popular show or television exclusive on certain streaming media” said Emily Dong, a rising senior at East Brunswick High School in East Brunswick, NJ, when asked the reason in the increase in viewership.
Streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu have experienced a spike in viewing membership during this quarantine. Netflix, in particular, has gained “15.8 million global subscribers, surging ahead of Wall Street’s expectations of 7.6 million,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Viewership to streaming services… has increased because people are stuck at home. Where previously people were going out and being social and now people aren’t doing that as much and they are looking for more options and more things to watch for their entertainment,” said Ronald Richards, Marvel’s Vice President of Editorial and Content Distribution.
Quarantine has seemed to unfold an interesting dichotomy within US television; it has uncovered that the entertainment industry can still persevere towards the future while holding onto the past.
“Good thing about Netflix is that I have an infinite selection to choose from and spend the rest of my quarantine watching,” Dong said.