Drive-In Cinema – the answer to getting our film fix soon?

18th May 2020 3 Minute Read

Since the NI Executive published their plan for lifting lockdown restrictions, and included ‘drive through cinemas’ as being permissible in 'step one', we have been inundated with enquiries from Hub members, and other organisations, interesting in setting up these types of screenings.

We have also been sent details of many commercial businesses who have decided to explore the use of their venue car parks for drive-ins at short notice.

While we are all longing to have the collective (but apart) experience back in a cosy cinema screen,  drive-in cinema can be expensive. It is not a simple as putting up a big screen, flicking on a DVD and hoping for the best. Thought must be given to proper equipment, licensing, health and safety in accordance with government guidelines (of volunteers/staff and audiences), marketing, concessions, toilets and more. The environmental impact of such events should also be at the forefront of planning.

There are many considerations when planning such a large scale event so we have pulled together some resources to guide organisations who are thinking of venturing into the drive-in business.

  • You will need to contact your local council and talk to them about a cinema licenses. The general rule is if you are planning more than 6 screenings in any venue, you need a cinema license. Here are Belfast City Council’s details on cinema licensing, for example.
    Here is the full list of councils – find your local council and contact them before planning any activity.
  • You must book a license for each film you screen. Filmbankmedia are one of the leading distributors of films and have a step by step guide to booking titles.
  • A comprehensive guide to drive-ins has been prepared by The Cinema Technology Community. You have to sign up for a free membership to read it, but it’s very good.
  • Putting on these events can be very costly – this blog highlights the financial reality of the cost of drive-ins.

If your organisation is considering putting on drive-ins, and you want to chat over any aspect of this, please give us a shout to arrange.