Drive-in movie theatres were the place to hang out in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

Dozens of reasons can be blamed for their demise since then, but sitting in a car watching a movie on a big screen through the front windshield is in demand again.

“Within the first hour there were 200 people registered, within 12 hours there were 700 people registered and as of now, there are over 1500 people registered,” said drive-in organizer and Nanaimo Clippers general manager Tali Campbell.

The Clippers are behind the plans for 5 nights of outdoor movies in June.

June 12 and 13 are reserved for Clippers’ season ticket holders while public nights are June 19 to June 21. One movie will be played each night.

“There is no hockey anymore, that’s been cancelled, unfortunately. But we said let’s turn it around. We still have our staff that the owner allowed to stay on payroll and so let’s start giving back in different ways and the movie theatre was just one of those ways,” said Campbell.

But getting to this point hasn’t been easy. They’d originally wanted to do it last weekend with 100 vehicles. Provincial health officials countered with 50 people and then finally agreed to 50 vehicles.

“And even though 50 cars may seem like a small amount and it is a less risky environment we know that if we get people together there will be several people in a vehicle,” Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday. “The chances of more contact, meaning the spread of this virus is very real right now.”

Henry says there can also be no concession stand and that everyone has to stay in their own vehicles unless they have to go to the washroom.

Organizers are required to provide facilities serviced with running water for proper hand hygiene.

An online lottery will determine who can go to the movie and it’s all free. The movies will be shown on an inflatable screen set up on a flatbed truck in a parking lot adjacent to Frank Crane Arena.

“I think it would be awesome. It would be something that everyone could come and enjoy all together, especially with the whole COVID thing,” said Nanaimo resident Rachel Thomson. “Everyone could enjoy something together but with the social distancing thing as well.”

Campbell and the Clippers have been receiving calls from communities and organizations across the Island wanting to host a drive-in as well.

Dean Stoltz