Mall owners turning parking lots into drive-in theaters during pandemic

Drive-in theater reopens, offers coronavirus-safe entertainment

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Mall and store owners are monetizing their parking lots while providing socially distanced entertainment during the coronavirus pandemic in the form of drive-in theaters and farmers markets.

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Brookfield Properties, for example, recently teamed up with experiential events company Kilburn Live to bring "pop-up" drive-in theaters to its parking lots at locations in Denver, Dallas, Minneapolis, Houston and Woodbridge, New Jersey, a spokesperson told FOX Business.

"Brookfield Properties is an ideal partner for us," Kilburn CEO Mark Manuel said in a statement. "They have some of the best malls and locations throughout the United States and are as committed to finding creative ways to adapt to these new circumstances as we are."

A parked car at a drive-in movie theater. / iStock

Manuel said Kilburn and Brookfield, plus other partners, "plan on opening as many of these pop-up drive-ins" as possible "to help expand everyone’s ability to go to the movies in a compelling and safe way."


The experience will be app-based, meaning guests can order movie snacks from concession stands on-site, restaurants or food court stands located in Brookfield's shopping complexes.

Additionally, instead of having to use a car radio to listen to the movie, guests can listen through their Bluetooth systems using a local area network that allows for wired and wireless connectivity. Cars are required to park at least eight feet apart.


"Our primary focus, now more than ever, is to create an exciting experience in an environment where people feel safe and comfortable," Melinda Holland, Brookfield Properties senior vice president of business development, said in a statement. "The Cinema Pop-up does just that. Our centers are gathering places for their communities and we look forward to welcoming guests back to the malls in this new and innovative way."

Brookfield has also hosted farmers markets at some of its parking lot locations.

Walmart similarly announced in early June it would partner with entertainment company Tribeca Enterprises to transform parking lots at 160 of its locations across the country into drive-in theaters starting in August.

The classic, decades-old activity has been making a comeback during the pandemic, as it allows for socially distanced entertainment among family and friends, whereas movie theaters have taken a significant hit after being shut down completely.

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