Walmart will be helping to revive an American institution this summer. The mega-retail chain announced on Thursday that it will be converting its parking lots into drive-in movie theaters starting in August, providing customers a means for entertainment away from the couch while remaining socially distant.
"This family-friendly night will include hit movies, special appearances from filmmakers and celebrities, and concessions delivered right to customer vehicles," Walmart said in a press release, via CNN. In addition to showing films, the stores themselves will serve as a concession stand, where customers can use curbside pickup for snacks — but not All Lives Matter t-shirts. The chain is also partnering with Robert De Niro's Tribeca Enterprises to program the films. So far, no locations or schedules have been announced, though the plan is to have the drive-ins active from August through October, totaling more than 300 showings.
The announcement comes as conventional movie theaters have remained shuttered for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. While some chains had discussed and modified re-opening protocols, several state and local governments have started to roll back those plans due to spiking cases in multiple states. There has been a mild revival of the drive-in in the weeks since the pandemic was declared back in March, although that has mostly been through smaller, independent venues.
The drive-in has also become a fixture of the country music community as a means of replacing the live concert experience. Live Nation will start hosting a concert series dubbed "Live From the Drive-In," which will take place from July 10-12 in Nashville, Tennesse; Indianapolis, Indiana; and St. Louis, Missouri. Paisley will play on different nights in all three cities will Jon Pardi will play in Nashville and Indianapolis, Darius Rucker will round out the Nashville lineup, St. Louis natives Nelly and El Monstero will play in that city and Yacht Rock Revue will complete the Indianapolis bill. Other performers including Keith Urban, Chase Rice and Garth Brooks have all planned similar ventures to stay connected with fans.
"Around the world, we're seeing a real eagerness from our fans and artists to safely get back to the concert experience," said Tom See, President Live Nation Venues – US Concerts. "We are excited to unveil 'Live From The Drive-In' – a completely unique outdoor concert series that will allow fans to enjoy live shows again, while socially distanced." See added that their lineup of artists "share our vision to continue to create once-in-a-lifetime moments for fans and are excited to get back to live music through this reimagined experience."