Driving Through The Pandemic


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Everyone loves a good story, be it in a book or in a film. The scenes that reflect our realities are what draws us into watching or reading stories. In the beginning, films started out short, only lasting a few minutes. Typically, they would be shown at public places like a fair or space where a screen could be set up in a dark environment.


History of Drive-In Cinemas

It all started in June of 1933, Richard Hollingshead was the first to launch a drive-in cinema in New Jersey. The idea came up because he wanted to find a solution for people who can't fit into small theatres, like his mother. From there, drive-in cinemas became increasingly popular as early as 1958 in parts of the United States.


In Malaysia, drive-in cinemas were never a thing. That is until Covid-19 happened, forcing cinemas across the country to close. So, where do all the cinema fans go? The nationwide lockdown allowed drive-in cinemas to pop up in various locations. The very first one was opened in July 2020, and it was the 'Nescafe M-Junction Drive-In Cinema' in Kuala Lumpur and surrounding it is a stunning view of KLCC and the KL Tower. This is a collaboration project between 2Spicy Entertainment Live, MD Events Asia and Nescafé. This project is also supported by the Malaysia Tourism Centre. For its launch, the cinema premiered Hollywood's "Legacy of Lies" which created history. The main reason for opening a drive-in cinema was an initiative to help revive this country's domestic tourism economy that was seeing a decline because of the pandemic.


SOPs of Drive-In Cinemas

Now, let me walk you through how and what to expect from this drive-in cinema. The burning question is, will people follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs)? Well, yes! In fact, the cinema has strict SOPs in place to protect their customers, staff and anyone within the vicinity are at low-risk from contracting an infection. Ticket prices for the economy class cost RM99 while VIP packages cost RM159. The price factors in two front-row seats that include tickets for two meals and popcorn. However, if you drive an SUV or a larger vehicle, you might want to not purchase a VIP ticket because you'll be parking at the back rows so the view for smaller cars will not be blocked. Plus, food trucks are available, should you be in the snacking mood later on.


Before entering, as usual, temperatures will be checked, hands sanitised and special handouts of do's and don'ts will be given to customers too. Every car must only have two people inside and, once they park at a designated spot, each vehicle will be provided with two Bluetooth speakers. These speakers will be connected via an auxiliary cable that allows you to hear the audio of the film, and customers will also be provided with two battery-operated fans.


Tips for Newbies

Now some tips for newbies! Sitting in a car for hours on end may get uncomfortable after a while, especially with the glorious Malaysian heat. So while you will enjoy car air-conditioning, it is advisable to wear something light and comfortable. Even with the battery fans provided, it can get a little warm. When it comes to the best times to go, there are two slots in one day, 6 pm and 9 pm. I suggest going for the 9 pm show because the screen will be clearer in the background, and it's cooler at night. If you do decide to go at night, be prepared for mosquitoes!


Viewers should keep in mind that the queue can be pretty long. Only 50 cars are allowed to be in at a time, so it is better to arrive 30 minutes before the movie starts because it might take some time to go through the procedures and get settled in.


For those who may not want to venture out to the city, there is another drive-in cinema located in PJ called CineDrive. For those in Ipoh, there is also Sini-Drive at downtown Meru to enjoy some flicks.


Suppose you are thinking of going out on a date or even just a relaxing weekend. In that case, a drive-in cinema is an ideal place to go to as you will still be maintaining social distancing but with your favourite person beside you. A drive-in cinema can be a perfect idea if you are planning a celebration, anniversary, or even just to take a break and hang out.


By Dhineswary Sreedharan


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