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One Southern California drive-in movie theater this week became the perfect spot for “a self-quarantined movie date.” But after strict “safer at home” restrictions went into effect across the state, the Paramount Drive In Theater is now closed. (March 20)

AP Entertainment

The drive-in movie experience is going to get a substantial upgrade in the social-distancing era.

Robert De Niro‘s Tribeca Enterprises is teaming with IMAX and AT&T for “Tribeca Drive-In,” a summer film series that will be held at drive-in theaters and other venues throughout the country.

Starting June 25, “Drive-In” is designed to “provide families with a safe, comfortable entertainment experience” as they go out during a time of coronavirus-related restrictions, the companies said in a release Wednesday. The series promises a curated collection of new, classic and independent films, as well as music and sporting events. 

Venues, films and ticket information will be announced later.

As lead technology partner, IMAX will use its Digital Re-Mastering process (IMAX DMR) to enhance the image and sound of “Drive-In” presentations and provide technical support and equipment. The company will work with Tribeca Enterprises, known for the acclaimed Tribeca Film Festival, to select films from the IMAX library.

Drive-in rebound: Coronavirus shut down movie theaters, people flock to drive-ins instead

Film legend De Niro, who co-founded Tribeca Enterprises and the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003, said the project provides a great opportunity to enjoy film during a challenging time.

“We’re excited to give people something to look forward to this summer and reinvent a classic movie-going experience for communities to enjoy together safely,” he said in a statement.

Drive-in theaters, which allow people to watch from the safety of their car, are enjoying a rebound in the social-distancing era. Once ubiquitous, the outdoor venues have slipped substantially in prominence over the years, with just over 300 remaining in the U.S. compared to 5,500 indoor theaters, according to the Associated Press

John Vincent, president of the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association, saluted the concept. “I know many drive-ins really appreciate the opportunity to work with the Tribeca Enterprises team to bring content to our screens in this much-needed environment.” 

The announcement notes that Tribeca was founded to unify New York through the arts after 9/11, a parallel to “Drive-In” as a response to the coronavirus crisis and social-distancing requirements, which left indoor movie theaters closed.

“At a time when people are eager to connect and convene again after months-long social distancing, we’re taking the spirit of Tribeca around the country by creating a safe environment where audiences can come together and enjoy the sense of connection found by going to the movies,” Tribeca Enterprises co-founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal said.

“Drive-In” promises to work with local vendors to support small businesses to “make the experience truly unique to each community.”

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