Drive in cinema hire – 90 years of a classic movie experience

Drive in cinema hire has seen a boom in popularity in recent years.

The concept has taken off across the world and enjoyed a revival especially following the Covid-19 pandemic as an open air socialising option. These days drive in cinemas such as those hosted with Urban Entertainment are slick operations.

But where did it all begin and why?

A devoted son and inventor

Richard Hollingshead launched the first patented drive in cinema way back in 1933. Next year, 2023, will mark the 90th anniversary of his invention.

It was his solution for people who were unable to fit into smaller movie theatre seats. And the prototype event was actually for his mother, held in the driveway of her home.

The New York Film Academy said Richard advertised the event as a place where “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.”

In 2022, the universal appeal of a drive in cinema is still a key part of its popularity. Families, dogs and fancy dress can all play a part in the occasion.

How drive in cinema hire spread across the USA

New Jersey was the location of Richard’s first drive in, but soon they began to appear in every state in America, as well as internationally.

It was during the 1950s and 1960s when drive-in cinemas reached their peak moment. At the time there were said to be more than 4,000 drive ins across America. As well as being popular with families, they were also a low-cost option for courting couples.

Some of the most iconic movie scenes themselves feature drive in cinema. In Grease, which is set in the 1950s, star characters Danny and Sandy head to a drive in for a romantic evening. That scene was filmed at the Pickwick Drive In in Burbank, California, which is no longer operating today. Many drive in cinemas at that time were located in rural areas where there was more space to host large events and lots of cars.

How drive in cinema has evolved

Back in the 1950s, people attending drive in cinemas would attach a speaker to their window. That’s how they would attempt to listen to the film’s audio.

That’s hard to imagine now thanks to technology. At Urban Entertainment we use an FM transmittor so the movie audio is played seamlessly through the car’s stereo.

Any film we show is also crystal clear on huge inflatable AIRSCREEN cinema screens, due to the high definition projectors used.

These screens are available in three different sizes so it is suitable for any and all drive in cinema hire events. We even offer some of the largest screens across Europe.

You can hold your event in a park or city centre location. Our expertise means you can enjoy a classic, nostalgic experience without the 1950s technical glitches.

Celebrate the 90th anniversary

June 6, 2023, will be the official 90th anniversary of the invention of drive in cinema. Demand for celebratory events will be high and many are already in the planning.
If you need help putting on a worthy tribute to this classic medium, get in touch with our experts today.