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Will We Ever See Drive-In Theatres Again?


It's quite funny that people are getting nostalgic about drive-in cinemas and thinking it may be time to revisit them as a concept. Just recently a collection of black-and-white photographs from their heydays was published via Buzzfeed showing people rolling up to drive-in cinemas with their families, attaching a speaker to the window and catching a double feature on a big screen over the weekend. From Planet of the Apes to the 10 Commandments... for a long time this was the way that people consumed cinema via open a parking lot with a giant screen where you use a wired speaker or tune into a specific station to get stereo sound.

This was a more popular way of doing movies because you could relax in your own car, fall asleep if you really wanted to or make out in the back seat if the movie sucked. Advances in technology made the cinema-going experience far superior in terms of sound and visuals. You could even argue that a breakdown in the family unit meant that there were less family outings, resulting in a more individualistic society. Blockbusters and cinema multiplexers became the next big thing encouraging patrons to catch the latest releases rather than a double feature of classics. The big screen dwarfed the television screen and with the advent of Dolby surround it just became the obvious choice to move indoors.

Drive-In Theatre Nostalgia via Buzzfeed News

While cinema multiplexers remain relevant, they do seem to be in decline as home theatre technology and the online availability of the latest films makes the prospect of going to a public screening less inviting. 4DX and 3D technology have gone a long way to refreshing the cinema experience, however based on the current economic climate people are looking for more cost-effective ways of consuming entertainment. Streaming services have gone a long way to curbing piracy, connecting subscribers to massive repositories of entertainment for a small monthly fee.

Instead of buying DVDs, Blu-rays and owning the physical media, entertainment culture centres around accessibility rather than ownership allowing users to tap into a multitude of films online. With the advances in Internet speed and compression, it's become a lot easier to get what you want on-demand and a culture of instant gratification this seems like the way that entertainment is going allowing the individual to remain separate, able to customise their entire entertainment experience in a rather alienating way. With individual profiles, streaming services and are able to target each user's likes and dislikes, improving the customer experience by giving them more of what they want but possibly making it easy to distance oneself. As society becomes more self-sufficient and emotionally disconnected, binge-watching to essentially "chill" is becoming the self-soothing opiate for the masses.

Checking out of life and escaping to what has become a steady stream of mediocre entertainment with little substance, there's very little to challenge and inspire people. One of the biggest problems at the moment is that there's too much of everything. In the past with fewer options, channels and means of consuming media, it was easy to stay on top of things. Many people were watching the same things and there was a shared pop culture currency. Nowadays there's just so much fragmented content – all doing its best to be edgy and capture your attention for a minute. Online entertainment streaming services based on the pioneering Netflix business model and gaming destinations such as Karamba Casino South Africa are on the rise as Internet connectivity becomes more integral to our devices and lifestyles.

The marketplace has been filled with loads of shouting and very little value. This hustling and bustling environment is not the best for a competitive quality cinema culture. Capturing bankable audiences has become the new norm and while eye-popping and spectacular something's been lost in the process. Perhaps the nostalgia associated with drive-in theatres is actually our longing for deeper connection, tighter family bonds and a sense of belonging. It seems as though without these fundamental elements, things have become quite rudderless and even reckless. Perhaps the concept of a drive-in theatre is ready for a comeback as it dawns upon culture and society that we do actually need each other and that technology is a poor substitute for intimacy.