Photo by Charlie Deets

I am sure many of you, like me, are hesitant to be in public spaces due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Cases seem to be on the rise once again. The safest option, as we’ve been told, is to stay home as much as possible – and for this reason I haven’t been attending any entertainment events. I haven’t set foot in a movie theatre in almost a year, and many films are delaying their release dates until theatres can fully open again.

There is however, one alternative that allows for us to get out of the house for some entertainment while maintaining a safe distance from others. Drive-in theatres are becoming increasingly popular lately. Let’s take a look back in time at the history of drive in theatres, and why they’re still successful after nine decades.

The story of Drive-in Theatres

Drive-in theatres’ history can be traced back all the way to 1915, but they didn’t become popularized until the 1930s when Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. established some of the first big drive-in theatres. He got the idea after experimenting with a screen that was nailed to the trees in his backyard, while putting a projector on the hood of his car. Hollingshead had a vision that people who are uncomfortable fitting into smaller movie theatre seats could also enjoy a movie with friends and family. He was granted the patent for drive-in theatres on May 16th, 1933.

Hollingshead advertised his drive-in theatres with the slogan, “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” It attracted a lot of families to the theatre when it opened. The concept of a drive-in theatre was so fascinating and fresh, it got nationwide attention. But this new form of entertainment wasn’t without hiccups. There were sound issues relating to drive-in theatres – Hollingshead’s theatre had a sound delay because of the speakers which were installed on the screen tower.

Decline of Drive-In Theatres

Popularity kept increasing throughout 1950s and 1960s as it was a cheaper option in comparison to indoor movie theatres. The expenses of maintaining a drive-in theatre were also quite cheap which appealed to companies. But as technological advances gained momentum, the trend of drive-in theatres began to decline. People became more likely to pursue at home entertainment, from television, to VCRs, and video rental. These technological advances in the 1970s rendered drive-ins a moot point and was no longer people’s first choice for entertainment.


Nowadays, drive-in theatres are starting to pop back into trend because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indoor movie theatres are shut down, and people are encouraged to social distanced from each other. Drive-in theatres are the best option to watch movies with friends and family in a safe environment. Everyone is turning to online platforms for entertainment such as YouTube, Facebook Live, Twitch, and even Zoom. There are live performances conducted through Zoom, utilizing the multi-participants element and live chat during the performance. Sport games and Film Festivals are also getting live broadcast through a big screen, very much the same as a drive-in theatre.

Peel Region Theatres

In the region of Peel, there are a few drive-in theatres you can attend, including 5 Drive-In Theatre located at 2332 Ninth Line, Oakville. In Mississauga, a brand-new drive-in theatre has just opened its doors – Untitled Spaces is a collaboration between Square One Mall and Together Toronto, located at 242 Rathburn Rd W #208, Mississauga. Whether you’re an avid movie goer or someone dying to get out of the house for some entertainment, drive-in theatres are the best way to do so.

You can find upcoming shows and details here:

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