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Drive-in movies get renewed interest

"Drive-In Movie Theater Screen" by KB35 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While traditional movie theaters may be opening up relatively soon, there has also been a renewed interest in drive in theaters which offer a more socially distant movie viewing experience. 


There aren’t a lot of drive in theaters left in Michigan, even fewer in Northern Michigan. When it comes to Northern Michigan there's one in Leelanau, Sanilac, and the UP. Eric Sherbinow is a member of the UP film union, involved with running the Manistique drive-in. He says they usually just show movies for special events as fundraisers with organizations, but recently they've seen demand for more from the community, and in larger volume than normal.
“We have people contacting us constantly, aside from these organizations, just people in the public, a little bit aggressively saying “you should be showing movies tonight,” and it’s just not that easy,” said Sherbinow, he explained that since the theater is a non-profit they don't have the budget to show movies every night, let alone every week. For a small theater like the Manistique Drive-In, he said the licensing costs are an expense they can only afford with the help of sponsoring organizations.


Sherbinow mentioned a recent event at the end of May which the theater held outside of the realm of film, the theater hosted a graduation of a local high school. They did the event and displayed student names and speeches over the big screen. For the community it was a hit, and Sherbinow said it has opened the door to other sorts of events.


Sherbinow explained that it wasn't just the theater realizing they could be a venue for more than just movies either, they've since had performers start to reach out. “Everything from standup acts, music promoters, fireworks , everyone in the entertainment game is looking for a way to stay viable right now, and they’re reaching out to drive-in theater operators, and we’ve been in talks with a couple of them,” he said.


In the future the UP film union is envisioning the drive-in as more than just an every once in a while movie theater, but also a place of communal gathering.