The black-owned drive-in theater created by the Covid pandemic has plans to remain close by
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the US small business landscape, fueling some and destroying others.
It was an opportunity for Ayana Morris and Siree Morris: They founded the drive-in theater Newark Moonlight Cinema together. But even as vaccinations are causing some people to return to their pre-Covid paths, the Morrises told CNBC that they have plans to grow their small business.
One of the few black-owned theaters in the country, the pop-up theater shows classics and cult favorites with an emphasis on African American filmmakers and actors. Moonlight Cinema hosted more than 20,000 cars in its opening location in 2020. It is benefiting from pandemic distancing protocols even as indoor cinemas and entertainment venues are bouncing back with vaccines, now widespread in the US
“We are able to provide a natural social distance for our guests … you can be with the people you are already quarantined with, you are comfortable with the people you live with,” said Ayana Morris. “You come down in your car and have a great experience watching a movie.”
The Morrises, who appeared on “The Exchange” on Wednesday, said they plan to expand the cinema’s outdoor entertainment experience by adding more films and outlets and improving the concession business.
Moonlight Cinema, which has multiple sponsors including Amazon and Prudential, operates Wednesday through Sunday through October 31st. It shows films on two 800 square meter screens, on which different films are played simultaneously, with the sound being transmitted over the radio of each car.
Ayana Morris said she would like to see the drive-in theater experience “modernized” beyond Covid.
“I know movie theaters are one thing, drive-in theaters are one thing,” she said. “I think a nice combination of indoor-outdoor experiences is the smart way to go in the 21st century.”
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