In This Time of Isolation, One Old-School Business is Booming Again

The next few weeks will be a strange time here in the United States.

Who am I kidding?  It’s going to be a strange few months, at least, with some lingering ramifications fouling the air around the globe for possibly years to come.  The Covid-19 crisis is really just beginning, and America’s business landscape is about to shift rapidly.

Given the nature of the illness, gathering places such as restaurants, bars, and gyms have been forced to shut their doors.  This is all good and well for the safety of the public, but it hasn’t been great for the economy, obviously.

We’ll soon see a fairly large shift in our local economies, with some businesses predictably being forced to alter their operations, and other, perhaps forgotten industries suddenly thriving.

Such is the case with the drive-in movie theater, both here in the United States and abroad.

A long queue of cars forms in front of a drive-in cinema in Seoul, as South Koreans look for safer spaces to enjoy a movie without the risk of contracting the coronavirus raging across the world.

Box office numbers in South Korea — which has 8,897 confirmed virus cases — have plummeted in recent weeks due to the epidemic, with authorities urging the public to avoid large crowds.

But at Park Dong-ju’s drive-in cinema, moviegoers can enjoy a film from the comfort of their cars, parked in front of a large outdoor screen.

“We’ve had a 10-20 percent increase in sales for weekdays, and sell out on weekends,” Park said, adding: “We’re definitely getting many more calls and internet inquiries after the coronavirus outbreak.”

The impact was even larger stateside.

The Showboat Drive-In Theater in Hockley, Texas, about a 30-minute drive outside Houston, normally sees ticket sales go down about 40% on a weekend when they don’t have any new movies. Last weekend, they saw a 40% increase, says the theater’s owner, Andrew Thomas. Usually open weekends, Thomas has kept screenings going through the week.

“Obviously this isn’t the way you’d want it to occur, but I’m excited for the idea that there may be a new generation of people that will get to experience going to a drive-in theater and — I was going to say catch the bug,” said Thomas, laughing. “Maybe some other turn of phrase.”

Just make sure that whoever you’re fogging up the windows with plans on being your quarantine partner before getting too cozy.