Walmart Is Turning Its Parking Lots Into Drive-In Movie Theaters This Summer

Customers shop at a Walmart store on May 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Walmart reported a 74% increase in U.S. online sales for the quarter that ended April 30, and a 10% increase in same store sales for the same period as the effects of the coronavirus helped to boost sales.
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Walmart is making use of its parking lots to recreate a classic American tradition: the drive-in movie theater. Starting in August, 160 Walmart stores will convert part of their parking lots into theaters as a safer alternative to the traditional movie theater during the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.

Walmart is teaming up with Robert De Niro-backed Tribeca Enterprises to show over 300 movies between August and October. Attendees can have food delivered to their cars or they can use curbside pickup at the nearby stores to grab snacks and drinks. In addition to movies, filmmakers and celebrities are slated to make appearances.

“This family-friendly night will include hit movies, special appearances from filmmakers and celebrities, and concessions delivered right to customer vehicles,” Walmart said.

Walmart hasn’t released details about which movies will be playing or which celebrities might make an appearance, but it has launched a website called Walmart Drive-In to keep fans up to date on the plan.

The retail giant isn’t the first to bring back the drive-in movie concept. Small business owners across the country have turned parking lots into mini outdoor movie theaters as movie lovers are forced to stay home because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Drive-in theaters around the world have seen an increase in the number of patrons as people seek safer ways to see movies.

An employee measures the temperature of a driver from a car window at a cine drive-in movie at Caminho Niemeyer amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 25, 2020 in Niteroi, Brazil.
  Luis Alvarenga / Getty Images

Movie chain AMC revealed that it plans to reopen almost all of its theaters in July, though there is some question about how many people are willing to head out to watch movies in public while the virus continues to rage in many parts of the country.

AMC said that it will sanitize theaters and limit capacity, and employees and patrons will be required to wear masks. Moviegoers are advised to wear masks but not required, and in some areas, theater owners have been asked to provide disposable seat covers for attendees. But some people are still hesitant to go out in public.

“Theater executives say they are confident that aggressive safety measures will offset any fears. Some states are requiring cinemas to limit capacity to 25 percent, at least initially. Groups will be seated at least six feet apart in a ‘checkerboard’ style,” noted the New York Times.

“Some cinemas may designate arrival times for ticket buyers to reduce last-minute crowding at concession counters. More theaters will allow patrons to order concessions with their phones. Seats will be sanitized before each showtime.”

AMC has also said that it may work with Clorox to create a good plan to sanitize theaters, and it is looking into high-tech systems to improve sanitation, such as upgraded ventilation systems and high-tech vacuums.