Resurrection of drive-in movies puts Pacific Beach in the spotlight
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 07/18/12 - 03:10 PM | 18920 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Featured movies during the summer drive-in series by Full Moon Drive-In will include such favorites as “Top Gun,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial.”                                                                                                                              Photo by Don Balch I Beach & Bay Press
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The advent of new entertainment technology and an increase in real-estate values has seemingly rendered the once-flourishing American family tradition of the drive-in movie a thing of the past. This summer, however, Full Moon Drive-In is breathing new life into that old cinematic tradition with a new weekly pop-up drive-in in the heart of Pacific Beach.

Each weekend throughout the summer, the lot next to Pacific Beach Middle School — located at 1500 Felspar St. — will transform into a 1950s-style drive-in, complete with a classic concession stand, vintage advertisements, live entertainment and film screenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Movies showcased on the giant, prefabricated screen will primarily feature American classics like “Top Gun,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial.”

Until Full Moon’s cinematic resurrection, San Diego hasn’t seen a new drive-in theater crop up since 1966, when the now-shuttered Mission Drive-In Theater opened in Oceanside.

“People who had the opportunity to visit a drive-in in the past remember them with great nostalgia, and younger generations are looking to discover what they are all about,” said Full Moon Drive-In partner David Adler, a downtown resident.

The driving force behind the drive-in’s comeback does not hinge on the movies being shown, he said. It is about the appeal of the entire experience.

“We trust that need for a new and unique entertainment experience outside the virtual world still exists,” he said. “Full Moon Drive-In will provide this experience by opening a door to a tradition from the past, with the added values and excitement the modern world is looking for today.”

That fusion of classic drive-in-meets-modern-day-technology results in a movie-going experience like no other, said Adler. Pictures and audio will come through much more clearly, as opposed to the often-pixilated and scratchy viewing and listening experience in the days of old.

At the same time, however, the same feelings of camaraderie among friends and family, the freedom of catching a flick in an open-air environment, or the romance of nestling into a car with a loved one remain.

“People today are still attracted by the entire experience,” Adler said.

Adler and his team at the locally-based Full Moon Drive-In decided to expand their concept stateside since the successful launch of Autocinema Coyote in Mexico City last year.

“We considered San Diego as a good entry point into the USA because it is a great city with great weather, and we know San Diegans love being outdoors,” he said. “We saw it as a great opportunity to help the cultural and entertainment scene flourish as it has over the past years.”

Not only is Full Moon helping drive the cultural scene in San Diego, but the organizers are also doing their part to help out the financially troubled school district.

“We saw this as an opportunity to help the local community, so we approached [the San Diego Unified School District] with the idea, and they agreed as long as we could find the right school,” Adler said. “To much luck, we came across PB Middle School, and after several meetings ,we decided to open there. Our concept is based on the idea of creating a drive-in out of a lot or space that is empty at nights.”

In addition to paying its rent to a struggling SDUSD, Full Moon has also signed a partnership agreement with the local school to allow teachers, students, staff and parents hold educational and fundraising events for free.

Full Moon’s full-blown revival of the beloved tradition will debut on the weekend of July 20 with the screening of the San Diego-based film, “Top Gun.”

Tickets are $20 per car and are available online or at the door if the movie has not yet sold out.

Parking spots are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Handicapped patrons and those arriving in classic cars of the 1950s and ’60s will have priority for the first rows. Gates open one hour prior to the listed movie showing, and organizers recommend that guests come early to secure the best spot.

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