NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio (WJW) – While traditional movie theaters remain closed, drive-in theaters are seeing renewed interest as they begin to reopen across Ohio.
Aut-O-Rama Drive-in Theater in North Ridgeville is preparing to welcome customers and turn on the big screens starting Tuesday night.
“I don’t even know if it’s even set in yet,” said owner Tim Sherman. “It’s one of those things where my mind is just going 100 miles per hour making sure everything works, making sure everything’s in place, especially with the new precautions.”
The experience will be a little different.
Sherman said Aut-O-Rama is capping capacity to allow for more space between cars. It will begin with a capacity of about a quarter, or about 200 cars, for its first few nights before doubling that Friday, when it will allow 450 cars.
The drive-in has also put in place new precautions including online ticketing, walk-up only concessions and it added restrooms to reduce lines, according to Sherman.
“It’s a group effort from everyone, just like anywhere else, going to the grocery store,” Sherman said. “Everyone has to help do this together and maintain social distancing.”
Meanwhile, traditional sit-down movie theaters remain closed. Cinemark said it’s working toward a mid-summer opening when regular movie releases may resume.
Sherman said, for now, Aut-O-Rama is showing movies that came out when it was first scheduled to open for the season months ago and is planning to mix in classic movies.
Tuesday night, the drive-in planned to show double features of Trolls World Tour and Dolittle, and Bloodshot and Bad Boys For Life.
It’s also hosting special events, including showing graduation videos for eight area school districts.
“We’re definitely going to try to get the best movies and airings we can for everyone,” Sherman said. “It’s just a different scenario right now than we’re used to.”
Sherman said showings for Tuesday night were nearly sold out, but tickets remained for the rest of the week.
Mayfield Road Drive-in Theater in Chardon announced it is also opening Tuesday night, while Midway Drive-in in Ravenna planned to open Friday.