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Luna Drive In
Photograph: Luna Cinema Luna Drive In

Drive-in cinemas in London: where to join the socially distanced cinema trend

The best spots to catch a movie under the stars this summer

By Phil de Semlyen
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Usually, this is the time of year when you’d be pondering which of London’s several dozen outdoor cinemas to decamp to with your blanket, sunnies and Aperol stash. What’s nicer than sitting back with a few mates, waiting for the sun to go down and one of your favourite movies to start. Unusually, there’s a lockdown on.

But if you love catching a film under the stars, don’t despair: this summer it’s been reinvented as drive-in cinema, complete with dirty burgers, roller skating waiters and an all-American vibe. Close your eyes and you could almost be in ‘American Graffiti’. If you have a car – or access to Zipcar – take your pick from these drive-in screens around the city and a slate of crowd pleasers that includes ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and ‘Back to the Future’. What better chance to make like Marty McFly, grab four wheels and go back in time to the ‘50s and ‘60s?

Where to find London’s drive-in cinemas

Drive In Film Club
Drive In Film Club
Photograph: Rooftop Film Club

Drive In Film Club

Run by the folk behind Rooftop Cinema, Drive In Film Club was an early adopter of four-wheeled cinema, running events long before the summer of lockdown. It’s back at its old Ally Pally stomping ground from July 4, offering two screenings a day, seven days a week, with extra family films on Saturdays and Sundays. On the line-up are classics (‘Grease’, ‘Toy Story’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Up’ and ‘ET: The Extra-Terrestrial’) and more recent hits (‘Joker’, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’). On the menu are gourmet hotdogs from Camden food truckers Popdogs.

Venue: Alexandra Palace, N22

Programme highlights: ‘Do the Right Thing’ (Jul 6), ‘Mean Girls’ (Jul 8), ‘Joker’ (Jul 15), ‘The Big Lebowski’ (Jul 16)

Ticket prices: £27.50 per vehicle for afternoon screenings and £29.50 in the evening. Free tickets available for NHS workers.

Official site: www.rooftopfilmclub.com

@TheDriveIn
@TheDriveIn
Photograph: Courtesy of @TheDriveIn

@TheDriveIn

News City Life

Retro Americana is big during @TheDriveIn’s 12-city run of outdoor screenings. The movie programme itself is big on ’80s classics and 2010s blockbusters, while your in-car snacking needs will be facilitated by roller waiters. The plan is to set up an LED screen, and a system that will allow drivers/ticket holders to be recognised by their licence plate to allow for a no-contact experience. All cars will be parked the recommended two-metre distance apart. There will be other entertainment, too, including silent in-car discos, bingo and stand-up comedy.

Venues
: They’re so-far unannounced but will be in south London (Jul 6-12) and east London (Sep 16-21), as well as 11 other UK cities.

Programme highlights: ‘Grease’ (Jul 9) , ‘Jaws’ (Sep 16), ‘Joker’ (Sep 21)

Ticket prices: £35/car

Official site: https://www.atthedrive.in/

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2BJT9CG 20.04.2020, Dortmund, Ruhr area, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany - drive-in cinema Dortmund, newly opened drive-in cinema in front of the former blast
2BJT9CG 20.04.2020, Dortmund, Ruhr area, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany - drive-in cinema Dortmund, newly opened drive-in cinema in front of the former blast
Photograph: Rupert Oberhauser / Alamy Stock

The Drive In

News City Life

This drive-in offering takes place at the new Troubadour venue in N18 (from the team behind the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre). Cars will be two metres apart, food can be ordered using a mobile app and the aim is for everything to be no-contact, which means tickets will be scanned through a closed car window.  The films on offer are the usual suspects for outdoor screening events:  ‘La La Land’, ‘Bad Boys for Life’, ‘Dirty Dancing’ and ‘The Terminator’. Tickets come in at £35 per car, although there are ten free car tickets for NHS and care workers for each screening.

Venue
: Troubadour Meridian Water, N18

Programme highlights: ‘The Terminator’ (Jul 5), ‘Get Out’ (Jul 5), ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ (Jul 11), ‘Bridesmaids’ (Jul 17)

Ticket price: £35/car

Official site: https://www.thedrivein.london/

Luna Drive-In
Luna Drive-In
Photograph: The Luna Cinema

Luna Drive-In

News Film

The brainchild of outdoor movie organisers the Luna Cinema, Luna Drive In is commandeering suitably grand venues across the country for its run of vehicular cinema (this is the one the Dowager Countess would rock up to – with a chauffeur, naturally). In London, it’s Printworks and Allianz Park, usually home to rugby club Saracens but transformed into a big-screen venue in July. Luna has pioneered a sound system involving in-car wireless speakers rather than relying on FM radio reception. The snack list sounds enviable, too, with retro hot food, oven-baked pizza and three pre-orderable hamper options on the menu. Also on the slate this summer? Event cinema team-ups with Royal Opera House and National Theatre Live. Look out for ‘Fleabag’ at Allianz Park on Thursday, July 30 at 9pm.

Venues
: Allianz Park, NW4, and Printworks London (until Jul 30) – plus Blenheim Palace, Knebworth House, Warwick Castle, Lulworth Castle, Harewood House and Tatton Park outside of London.


Programme highlights
: ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (Jul 8), ‘The Little Mermaid’ (Jul 10), ‘Grease’ singalong (Jul 18), ‘La La Land’ (Jul 19)

Ticket prices: Gold circle tickets (car + two passengers) cost £39.50, standard spaces (car + two passengers cost £29.50. A family car with up to five people is £35. 

Official site: https://www.lunadriveincinema.com/

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Picture: Sunset Cinema
Picture: Sunset Cinema
Picture: Sunset Cinema

Sunset Cinema

News Film

Helping ensure an even spread of drive-in cinema options across London, Sunset Cinema is setting up at Acton’s Twyford Avenue Sports Ground. The line-up? Think modern classics like ‘Mamma Mia!’, ‘Grease’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘The Lion King’ (the animated original, don’t worry), ‘Dirty Dancing’, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Joker’. All cars will be parked two metres apart, tickets will be scanned through car windows and an all-American menu of Dirty Bones burgers, popcorn, shakes and cocktails will be served to you in your vehicle. 

Venue
: Twyford Avenue Sports Ground, W3


Programme highlights: ‘Pulp Fiction’ (Jul 9), ‘Dirty Dancing’ (Jul 10), ‘Mamma Mia!’ (Jul 11)

Ticket prices: It’s the priciest at £50 for a car and two passengers. Additional passengers clock in at £15 each. 

Official site: https://sunsetcinema.uk/

Tom Kerridge
Tom Kerridge
Photograph: Drive & Dine Theatre

Drive & Dine Theatre

Top chef Tom Kerridge of The Hand and Flowers and ‘Saturday Kitchen’ fame is behind this gourmet-flavoured drive-in enterprise. Drive & Dine is running eight screens around the country and two in London – Syon Park and Selhurst Park – showing family-friendly fare and tried-and-tested crowd-pleasers. Do expect: delicious burgers, fancy picnic boxes and ‘Grease’. Do not expect: anything by Béla Tarr.

Venues: Selhurst Park and Brentford’s Syon Park. Both run from July 28 to August 2.

Programme highlights: ‘Grease’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Knives Out’, '1917’, ‘Back to the Future’

Ticket prices: £17.50 for adults, £7.50 for children and teens aged from two to 15.

Official sitehttps://driveanddinetheatre.com/

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Secret Cinema
Secret Cinema
Photograph: Lucas Film Ltd

The Drive-In

Goodwood just got glorious again. The famous old motor racing circuit will be hosting Secret Cinema’s take on the drive-in experience. With the world builders behind ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Moulin Rouge!’, ‘Stranger Things’ and experiential movie events involved, it’s not going to be a case of parking and getting stuck straight into a movie: expect film-inspired tunes, interactive games and the chance for momentary fame via a Zoom competition. Diner-style food and drinks will be delivered to your car window, while the involvement of Häagen-Dazs as an event partner ensures an abundance of ice-cream tubs on sale, too. 

Venue: Goodwood Motor Circuit, West Sussex

Programme highlights: ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (Jul 21), ‘Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope’ (Jul 22), ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (Jul 24)

Ticket prices: £50-£62.30 per vehicle.

Official site: www.secretcinema.org

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