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The Logistics of Drive-In Cinema Facilities

The Logistics Of Drive-In Cinema Facilities
19 June 2020 | Updated 24 June 2020

To the delight of film-lovers, this week drive-in cinemas have been given the go-ahead in the UK, but how will these work in terms of logistics and facilities management?

For the hospitality, events and entertainment industries, the lockdown has been particularly difficult. But as non-essential retail outlets open in England, along with the easing of social distancing measures for those who live alone, some of the most well-loved social activities are getting an outdoor makeover.

The industry has reported a positive response to such endeavours, but how might this work practically in terms of hygiene, social distancing and foodservice?


Socially-Distant Film Watching


They say that “necessity is the mother of invention”, and this is certainly true for the film industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From a facilities perspective, an outdoor cinema tackles a lot of the social-distancing issues that other entertainment industries struggle with. By virtue of customers being confined to their cars, as well as presumably access to large areas to ensure correct spacing between vehicles, human contact is limited.

This type of communal entertainment might also prove particularly popular now that “social bubbles” are being extended for people living alone. Families who’ve been restricted to outdoor socialising at a distance, or within their own homes, can now take a trip in their car to experience something a little different. 


How Does It Work?


One such outdoor cinema is “At The Drive In”, which will tour the UK as of 4 July 2020, stopping at 13 locations over 13 weeks. 

Alan Crofton, festivals director at international events company Mainstage Festivals, who is organising the tour, told Screen Daily that the process will work as follows:


  • Licencing – Audiences will comprise of less than 100 cars, meaning a licence for street parties and fetes is needed, rather than one that a large festival might require. Depending on size, a temporary event notice or a premises licence from local councils, under the Licensing Act 2003 is required
  • Retail – Customers purchase tickets online, inputting vehicle registration information
  • Set-up – Two touring trucks will set up the day before a screening (on a Wednesday)
  • Entry – This is via license plate recognition to minimise staff interaction
  • Parking – Cars are parked with more than a 2 metre space around them
  • Audio – The sound will be transmitted via FM radio straight to the car's radio, again minimising another potential touchpoint
  • Waste management – Customers are asked to not dispose of any rubbish at the event, allowing a smaller team to operate, allowing for increased social distancing with staff not having to touch the waste
  • Catering – Customers will have the chance to order in advance or on the night via an app. The delivery teams will bring the food all packaged up straight from the catering unit and put it in a designated delivery box by the car.
  • Hygiene – Hand sanitiser stations are provided at each toilet location, plus additional hand sanitiser at the catering points. 
  • Training – All staff receive extensive training around the appropriate safety procedures for maintaining the highest levels of hygiene. This includes regular hand washing, as well as the use of appropriate levels of PPE when preparing, serving and delivering food and beverages
  • Washrooms – Each row of cars will have a dedicated section of toilets to limit groups. They will offer social distant, spaced out queues, with cleaning after each use by an on-site team
  • Clean up – The screen and kit will be dismantled and packed up straight after the Sunday evening screening, setting off early the next day


What About Traditional Cinemas?


For those who prefer a more traditional experience in a bricks-and-mortar cinema building, some cinemas in England are hoping to open in July 2020, including the Cineworld chain.


Safety measures in cinemas

Picture: A graphic showing examples of measures cinemas are taking ahead of potentially reopening in July 2020. Image credit: Cineworld


Cineworld has publicised their plans for additional social distancing measures, to help ease any worries customers may have. This includes things such as e-ticketing, extra cleaning and updated seating maps.

Picture: A photograph of an outdoor cinema screen. Image credit: The Luna Cinema

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 19 June 2020


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