Being a movie buff, going to the movies is treat for me. I enjoy the entire experience, from getting the tickets and the popcorn to lounging in the comfy seats while watching the flicks. I’m also no stranger to going to the drive-in. According to the United Drive-In Theater’s Association, there are only 357 drive-ins left in the United States, and lucky me, I live about 25 minutes from a 3-screen drive-in theater. Whether you choose to go to a movie theater or to the drive-in, learning about the pros and cons of both might make your decision easier.
Although seeing a kid’s movie at a movie theater is a possibility, kids are unpredictable. If they dislike the movie, boredom might set in, and you might get stuck with a child that’s throwing a loud tantrum. This is where the drive-in comes in handy. Because everyone is watching the movie from their car, they won’t be disturbed by crying babies or screaming children. You can rest assure that when your child throws a tantrum, none of the other moviegoers will notice.
When it comes to the cost of a movie ticket, the drive-in wins once again. A normal movie ticket nowadays is $12 for adults and $9 for kids, while a ticket to see a drive-in movie is $8 for adults and kids are often free. At the drive in, two consecutive movies will play on the same screen. This means that for $8 you can actually see a double feature.
Because the drive-in only has a set number of screens, they can only play a select number of movies. Although they do often play the newer movies, the movie theater, especially the large once with 15 screens or more, offer a wider variety. Additionally, movie theaters play movies all day long, while the drive-in starts when the sun goes down. If you want to catch a mid-day movie, the movie theater is the way to go.
Food from the concession stand at the movie theater often costs more than the entire movie itself. This really adds to the cost of seeing a movie. Also, outside food isn’t allowed in the theater, and if you walk in with a bulging bag, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to show its contents. At the movie theater, you’re basically forced to spend money at the concession stand when the munchies set in. The drive-in can spare you money. Here, you are allowed to bring your own drinks and food, and some even go as far as bringing their own grill to make dinner. The drive-in does have a concession stand, and although it can get pricey, it’s often still cheaper than the movie theater.
During the summer, the drive-in is great, because you can bring your own chairs and lounge outside, right next to your car while watching the movie. However, during the colder winter months when it might rain or even snow, the drive in is less ideal. If a sudden rain occurs, the raindrops falling on your windshield can block your view of the movie. You won’t have this problem in a movie theater, where you’re sitting high and dry on a comfy chair inside.
There’s nothing better than watching a good movie while wearing sweats and a t-shirt, or even pajamas, like you would at home. Going to the movie theater might not make this possible, because people might look at you funny. At the drive-in, you can show up in a pajamas with your hair in a bun and no makeup on and nobody will look at you funny. Nobody will probable even see you if you stay in the car. So, if you’re in a casual mood, the drive-in is the way to go.
The bottom line, both the movie theater and the drive-in have good and bad points. If you’re on a budget, have kids and are in a casual mood, the drive-in is ideal, but if you want to see an movie in the afternoon or are on a date, the movie theater might be best. Hopefully this overview helps you decide where to go.
United Drive-In Theaters Association: Statistics