💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn email newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.
A new drive-in theater is coming to Philadelphia. For six weeks starting Friday, Aug. 21, the Mann Center in Fairmount Park will project a slate of movies on the big screen to hundreds of cars — all for free, with social distancing built in.
Register in advance, then just roll up at the scheduled time and tune in via FM radio. Visitors will scan into the parking lot with a QR code on their phone, through closed car windows.
The pop-up production is hosted by Philly’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The old school theaters are seeing a major revival, since sitting in your individual car is optimal for coronavirus safety. Another pop-up drive-in opens at the Navy Yard on Friday, and there are more in the PA and Jersey ‘burbs.
Added bonus: Parks & Rec partnered with the BlackStar Film Festival — so the first three nights will broadcast films made by African diaspora and Indigenous filmmakers.
Also on deck are kids’ movies like “Trolls” and the 2019 “Lion King” remake, plus classics like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “School of Rock” — yes, it’s a classic, don’t start — and “Jurassic Park.”
The full schedule is available on Eventbrite, where you can RSVP for the showings up to a week in advance. Take note: even with pre-registration, the whole thing is first-come, first-served — so organizers recommend arriving close to 7:30 p.m. for the 9 p.m. flick if you want to guarantee a spot.
While you’re getting settled, you can take advantage of food trucks on site, which will be selling pay-as-you-go refreshments. You can also bring your own food and drinks for a pre-movie picnic.
However, that picnic will need to be in your car — you have to stay inside it when not using the bathroom or picking up snacks. That’s part of the pandemic safety protocols that make the event acceptable to the Philadelphia Health Department.
The event promises plenty of pandemic protections. You’ll be told to stay in your car for the duration of the film, unless you want to hop out to use the bathroom or buy refreshments from food trucks on site.
When you are outside your car, social distancing ambassadors will remind you to stay six feet apart. Lines for food will be limited to 10 people or fewer, you’ll have to wear a mask and there will be hand-sanitizing stations all over.
If you register, just watch out for the weather on the day of. Go/no go decisions will be made by 2 p.m., and anything postponed will be assigned a rain date when possible.
Here’s the full line-up, as described by Parks & Rec (register here):
Friday, Aug. 21
A gripping, intimate look at not just the final, defining years of Bruce Lee’s life, but the complex, often difficult journey that led to Lee’s ultimate emergence as a singular icon in the histories of film and martial arts.
The Forty-Year-Old Version
Saturday, Aug. 22
Radha, a down-on-her-luck NY playwright, is desperate for a breakthrough before 40. But when she foils what seems like her last shot at success, she’s left with no choice but to reinvent herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime. The Forty-Year-Old Version follows Radha as she vacillates between the worlds of Hip Hop and theater on a quest to find her true voice. Winner of the Directing Prize at The 2020 Sundance Film Festival, The Forty-Year-Old Version is a hilariously candid and deeply personal debut from writer/director Radha Blank. A fresh addition to the New York City slice-of-life canon shot in lush black and white 35mm, Blank’s film is an ode to the unfulfilled, and those whose adversity gives them a one-of-a-kind story to tell.
Sunday, Aug. 23
A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the “Miss Juneteenth” pageant.
(Rain date for all of these films: Aug. 26.)
Tuesday, Aug. 25 (Rain date: Aug. 27)
Friday, Aug. 28
Wednesday, Sept. 2
Friday, Sept. 4
School of Rock
Wednesday, Sept. 9
Friday, Sept. 11
The Lion King (2019)
Wednesday, Sept. 16
Friday, Sept. 18
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Wednesday, Sept. 23
Friday, Sept. 25