Culture & Society Czech Republic News

Drive-in movies and cinemas make a come-back in Prague

Prague, Czech Republic – Drive-in cinemas and movie screenings have made their come-back in quarantined Prague, the Prague Reporter noted.

With all movie theatres and cinemas shut down due to the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, the options on where to watch films appeared more or less limited to one’s own laptop or TV.

Although the Czech Republic is gradually lifting restrictions and ending the nation-wide state of quarantine, cinemas will likely remain closed for some time and be among the last venues to reopen.

That’s where drive-in movies come in. “Drive-in cinemas haven’t really existed in Prague for at least the past two decades (outside of a brief 2008 experiment at Prague’s then-Ruzyne Airport”, the Prague Reporter writes.

ArtParking projects brings drive-in movies experience to Czech Republic

But this peculiar cinematic experience will be returning to the Czech Republic next week with the ArtParking project, which plans to bring a whole string of performances and events (live theatre, cinema and music) under the drive-in format in several locations throughout Prague and the rest of the country.

Including, starting next week, drive-in movie screenings at the railway station Nakladove Nadrazy Zizkov which will be turned into a temporary venue to enjoy movies from the safety of your car.

How exactly does it work and how does the cinema experience become as contactless as possible? Very simple: tickets of 400 Kc per car will need to be purchased online ahead of the screenings, and while refreshments will be able to be ordered via an app and brought directly to your car, organizers urge movie-goers not to leave their vehicle unless absolutely necessary (extra-sanitized restrooms will still be available if needed, according to the Prague Reporter).

The screenings will kick off on Monday with the already-cult South Korean award-winning Parasite, followed by the shock Czech documentary V siti on Tuesday evening and Green Book on Wednesday.

ArtParking is also keeping a little surprise in store with day-time screenings next week-end. Wonder how they’ll put that one off…

You can find more info and check out their entire schedule on their website right here.

Supporting the local film industry in times of crisis

But ArtParking isn’t the only one reviving drive-in cinemas in Prague. Kicking off yesterday with no other than Pulp Fiction, Kinoauto Praha has also started organizing screenings from the comfort of your car at the Smile parking lot next to the Prague Airport.

At 600 Kc per ticket, you’ll be able to enjoy other drive-in movies with refreshments and food (burgers, nachos, French fries, pop-corn) brought to your car. More info on their schedule and program right here.

Some great initiatives to support the Czech movie industry which has already become a collateral victim of the Covid-19 crisis. According to the Czech Republic’s Audiovisual Producers’ Association (APA), film production alone could decrease by 75% this year as a result of the crisis and lockdown, with small and medium-sized companies being affected the most.

Where did drive-in cinemas come from?

Although historians believe the first experiences of the kind were created in the United States as early as the 1910s, the first official drive-in cinema opened in 1933 in New Jersey. Legend has it that Richard Hollingshead, the founder of the first drive-in experience, got the idea for his mother who “was – how shall I say it? – rather large for indoor theatre seats”.

Later advertised as an open-air movie theatre where “the whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are”, drive-in cinemas became immensely popular in the following years and decades, with thousands of them popping up across the U.S.

“Drive-ins started to really take off in the 50s”, explains Jim Kopp of the United Drive-in Theatre Owners Association. “They offered family entertainment. People could sit in their cars, they could bring their babies, they could smoke. Drive-ins offered more flexibility than indoor theatres”.

Replicated throughout the world in the post-war era, drive-in movies quickly became a symbol of the Baby Boomers generation and an icon of American pop culture in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as an indispensable element of countless movies produced since then, from cult teen comedies (think Grease) to classic horror films.

Hit by the rising price of land which made it nearly impossible to turn a profit and unable to adapt to the new consumption habits of the younger generations, drive-ins slowly fell from grace. Today, only a fraction of them remain open.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.