66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage, Sky View Drive-In in Litchfield will open Friday

The 66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage, Missouri, and Sky View Drive-In in Litchfield, Illinois, will open belatedly for the season Friday after the coronavirus delayed it by several weeks.

According to its website, the 66 Drive-In will screen “Doolittle” and “I Still Believe.”

The 66 will be the only movie venue in that part of Missouri for the foreseeable future. The next-closest drive-in that will be operating is in Lamar, Missouri, about 30 miles north. Regular sit-down theaters across the country remain closed indefinitely because of the pandemic.

Owner Nathan McDonald told the Joplin Globe the only big issue in the coming weeks is what movie to show:

Thanks to the pandemic, movie theaters nationwide were forced to go dark two months ago. In response, Hollywood film studios pushed back release dates for some of 2020’s most anticipated blockbusters.
“Hollywood is not releasing any movies until (mid-July), so we’re going to be literally playing either older movies or movies that are available on streaming that were released in January or February,” McDonald said, “and we’re just going to have to try and survive on that until we have something new to show.”
On July 24, Disney’s “Mulan” will be the first 2020 blockbuster released by a major studio since COVID-19 took root in America. Other anticipated but postponed films include “Wonder Woman 1984” (Aug. 14); “Black Widow” (Nov. 6); the newest James Bond movie, “No Time to Die” (Nov. 25); and “Top Gun: Maverick” (Dec. 23).
“The throwbacks can get you through a couple of weeks off the gimmick of seeing ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ or ‘Jaws’ or something like that, but after a while, people might say, ‘I’m going to stay home and watch that for free,’” McDonald said. “So, without movies to show, I essentially have a small restaurant.”

McDonald said he’s going to set up the concessions area so patrons still can adhere to social distancing while ordering and getting their snacks.

The 66 Drive-In allowed area churches to use the venue for services, including Easter, in April.

According to the National Park Service, the 66 Drive-In opened Sept. 22, 1949, along Route 66 on Carthage’s west side. It closed in 1985 but reopened 13 years later.

Virtually everything at the theater from more than 70 years ago is there, including the neon marquee, playground, ticket booth, concession stand/projection booth and the 66-foot-tall screen. The 66 Drive-In was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Other news about drive-in theaters on or near Route 66:

— The Route 66 Drive-In in Springfield, Illinois, also will open this weekend. Patrons will be able to order concessions through the FanFood app and get the snacks at the pickup window. Tickets are being presold through its website, and cars will be allowed to park in every other space to enforce social distancing. The playground also will be closed. The double-screen venue will show “Trolls” and “The Invisible Man” on opening weekend.

— The Sky View Drive-In in Litchfield, Illinois, will show “Goonies” on Friday and Saturday and “Dazed and Confused” on Sunday during its season-opening weekend. The venue will require patrons to stay in their vehicles during the movies. Staff will wear protective masks and gloves.

— The Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa will open for the season May 15.

— The 19 Drive-In in Cuba, Missouri, states on its Facebook page it will reopen this spring but hasn’t set a date.

— The Tascosa Drive-In in Amarillo, Texas, will screen “The Wretched” and the Oscar-winning “Parasite” this weekend. It’s been open since March and has required parking in every other space to enforce social distancing.

— The Skyline Drive-In in Barstow, California, won’t reopen until it gets an all-clear from health officials.

(Image of the 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Missouri, by Mark Goebel via Flickr)

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