Most of us who grew up before the days of Netflix or even VCRs have happy memories of family drive-in outings. It was a big deal for my sister and me when we dressed in our pajamas, tossed pillows and blankets in the back of the station wagon, piled the whole family in the car (even Grandma!), and headed for the Woodland Drive-In.
It was a real treat for us to see a movie in an outdoor setting, sitting on the tailgate and munching on popcorn in the moonlight. But for me and my sister, a big part of the fun was the somewhat dangerous playground (ancient equipment over gravel and packed dirt – no padding!). It even had one of those spinny rides that every playground used to have until somebody figured out that they were responsible for a lot of vomiting and ER visits. Nevertheless, by the time the movie started, we’d be covered with dirt and mosquito bites but tired and happy.
Today’s kids don’t have that kind of fun (and danger) available to them, as drive-ins have mostly disappeared from the landscape. And even the surviving drive-ins don’t have playgrounds anymore because of liability issues.
(I’ll bet you were wondering when I would get to the business part, right?)
The fact is that people still love to watch movies under the stars. Which is why you can build a profitable business offering your customers the fun of an outdoor movie experience in their own backyards.
You can get started in the business either by licensing the name and branding of an established outdoor theater company, or you can just set up your company on your own.
Basically, all you need to do it yourself is an inflatable movie screen, an HD projector, concert-grade sound equipment, and a vehicle to transport everything. You’ll also need assistants to help do your set-up and breakdown as well as supervise for the duration of the event. If you want to grow your business, you can supplement your product line by providing snacks like candy and popcorn, birthday cakes, more extensive catering services, chairs and blankets, or other rental items.
Depending on the audience, a typical movie party could start with cartoons just before dusk. Then an intermission might include birthday cake, games, and door prizes. You could invest in a commercial popcorn machine and provide fresh hot popcorn to enhance the drive-in experience. If you want to make it a double-feature, just add another film!
What kind of events would book an outdoor movie experience?
- Birthday parties
- Halloween parties
- Poolside “Dive-In Movies”
- Company Events
- Parks & Recreation Departments
- Elementary, Middle, or High Schools,
- Apartment communities
- Fundraising events
- Sporting events
- Video game parties
- Film festivals
- Homeowners’ associations
- And More!
Of course, you can also provide indoor pop-up movie party packages as well, keeping your business active even in the colder months of the year.
I think the perfect profile of a successful outdoor movie business owner would be a film fanatic with a flair for event planning who likes to work outdoors and work with people. But if you’re just looking for a fun business that you can run from your home with minimal investment, this may be a good fit for you. You may even be the one who brings culturally deprived children across the nation their first real drive-in experience!