The Wildcat Goes to the Drive-In


Isabella Abalos

A showing of The Goonies in the Brea Mall parking lot. Drive-in movie experiences are making a comeback due to the pandemic and the closing of movie theater chains.

When the sun went down on Oct. 2, my anticipation rose for the 1985 classic, The Goonies, hosted by Starlight Movies. 

The Brea Mall parking lot near BJ’s Restaurant was crowded with cars, all facing a massive inflatable screen. Some people watched from the comfort of inside their vehicles, while others enjoyed the cool breeze from the outside, seated on lawn chairs or truck beds. People wore their masks and were physically distanced as they made their way to the concession stand or to the restrooms. 

Drive-in movies are experiencing a renaissance due to the pandemic. 

The first official drive-in theatre was introduced to the public in 1933, and in the ’50s and ’60s, drive-in theaters flourished due to a boom in auto sales. But with the introduction of color televisions and VCRs, and an energy crisis in the ’70s, drive-in theaters all but disappeared from the U.S. 

But in 2020, due to the pandemic, drive-in movies have made a comeback. They’re a safer option than traditional walk-in theaters, and in many communities, they’re the only theater option due to mass closures of walk-in theaters. So while the Regal Edwards theater in Downtown Brea is closed due to slumping business, drive-in movies, like the showing of The Goonies in the Brea Mall parking lot, are thriving. 

The parking lot venue had a concession stand which sold popcorn, lemonade, and candy, but many people, I noticed, had brought snacks from home. 

To listen to the movie, Starlight Movies broadcasts the film’s audio on 90.3 FM. While waiting for the movie to begin, the radio station plays the latest hits. 

The lights then dimmed in the parking lot, signaling that the movie was starting, and the audience settled into their chairs, seats, and truck beds to watch Mikey and his friends search for a pirate’s treasure.

The return of drive-in movies introduces a younger generation to their parent’s and grandparent’s nostalgia for the drive-in experience, and due to the need for physical distancing and our desire for entertainment, drive-in theaters might be here to stay.