According to Statista, an online statistics portal, there are currently 321 drive-in movie theaters in the US in 2022. Drive-in theaters were at the peak of popularity in the 1950’s. In 1958 there were 4,063 theaters operating in the US. (According to the L.A. Times).
With the rise of multi-screen movie theaters in shopping malls and suburban real estate development, long with other factors, drive-in theaters became a thing of the past.
In 2022, movie theater competition is very high. IMAX theaters offer the largest screens and superior sound technology, while standard multi-screen theaters have made their chairs larger and lounge-style, updated their screen and sound technology, included points and loyalty programs and in places like Canada, they even serve beer. Movie theaters often have arcades where you can play video games, air hockey and skee ball before or after the movie you came to watch. With all of these new and exciting extras and comforts, the novelty of the drive-in has definitely worn off.
It is important to note, that during the COVID-19 lockdowns, we saw a resurgence in drive-in movies as people could go out to a movie but stay away from others while in their cars. Communities that had drive-in movie setups saw visitors from all over attend their movies, while new drive-ins were popping up also.
There is speculation that if the COVID-19 pandemic had not happened, more and more drive-ins would have shut down sooner due to lack of popularity. On the flipside, many people are becoming nostalgic for things like drive-in movies so a surge in popularity may have happened without the pandemic.
Whether you are keeping to yourself because of the pandemic, nostalgic for the past or have never experienced a drive-in movie, it is highly recommended that you have this fun experience at least once in your life.