As part of a new series of articles looking at unique cinemas across the UK, Adam Brannon visited Moonlight Drive-In Cinema.
A drive-in cinema is probably not the first thing you’d associate with a rainy winters evening, but that’s exactly what I did at the end of January.
After accepting an invitation to attend a screening of Jurassic World at the Moonlight Drive-In Cinema (how could I resist?) I cleaned the car and invited two friends along for the ride. In this article, I share my experiences of the evening as a whole; from the film itself, to the food and atmosphere.
Hull’s KCOM Lightstream Stadium was the venue, Moonlight’s first visit to the UK City of Culture, and it was packed out; clearly the novelty of a US tradition wasn’t hampered by the very British tradition of wet weather.
We were greeted by some incredibly friendly staff who despite the rain, were happy to assist with any queries customers may have had. After pulling into our parking space, I began the task of tuning the radio in order to hear the film. Listening to a movie through your car’s stereo relies mainly on the quality of your speakers; thankfully mine were very good indeed.
Another nice touch is the American school bus, turned into a takeaway diner of sorts for the occasion. The food was what you would expect: burgers, chips, popcorn, hot and cold drinks and a selection of sweets. Perhaps more surprising was the fact none of the food or beverages broke the bank. I opted for some cheesy fries, which were perfectly decent.
The film began shortly after the 6:30pm time stated on the ticket, but once it got going we had a blast. Hearing Jurassic World’s bombastic score through the intimate setting of a car brought back memories of the iconic T-Rex scene in the 1993 original – you know the one, where the beast crashes through the glass roof of the kid’s tour vehicle.
Jason, 28 “After not really knowing what to expect, I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed the evening. A great film, sound and picture.”
The picture quality was exceptional considering a classic projector staged at the very back of the venue was used. Despite the constant onslaught of the British weather, only a slightly glossy look to the screen (thanks to the wet conditions) detracted from a crystal clear picture.
It’s worth noting that for passengers in the back of a car, the film can be obscured by the top of your windscreen and if you’re carrying more than three, it’d be a hassle for everyone to get a good view unless you remove headrests, though this would be uncomfortable to those in the front.
Emily, 27: “I really enjoyed the whole experience and was surprised by the quality of the picture and the sound. Definitely a fun way to experience film and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It’d be great to see this as a more permanent fixture in Hull.”
Having daytime running lights also presents a problem. Naturally, you need to keep your engine running in order to hear the radio and with so many vehicles coming with bright LED headlights as standard nowadays, the poor staff had to race around placing black fabric over them. Unfortunately, this solution kept falling off over the course of the film. Perhaps some magnetic clasps would help?
It’s clear that Moonlight are still ironing out some of the kinks, though none of these detracted from what is a deeply immersive experience and well worth the £25 price tag to attend, especially if your car has a decent stereo system.
You can read my exclusive interview with Ben Stonehouse, founder of Moonlight Drive-In Cinema here.