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Friday, June 03, 2016

Diary of a Drive-In Theater: Installment #3

It's all about concession for any cinema, but for Drive-Ins (which in many cases are only opened for 5 months or less) concessions are the real-life blood of survival.
Typical drive-in concession building

Drive-In theaters normally screen a double-feature each evening and start the presentation at dusk, which in summer is about 9pm. Patrons normally arrive early to get the best parking spots and to settle in for their 5-7 hour stay.

Many drive-ins have play-grounds for children, miniature golf, and other pre-show activities and events, such as fireworks, to bring the crowd in early and give ample opportunity for concession purchases. Additionally, there is always an intermission between features, at least, 15 minutes.  This provides a great opportunity to sell concession and of course during the movie people will walk to the concession stand to purchase items and will not miss much, if any, of the presentation.  Drive-ins pipe-in the film's soundtrack into the concession stand and many have table/seating areas just outside the concession area so patrons can eat and enjoy their snacks outside their vehicles and not miss any of the presentation.
Concession stands are large w/checkout at end

Drive-in concession menus offer a much wider food selection than in-door cinemas.  Although in-door cinemas sell other food items besides popcorn, soda, and candy, drive-ins are food meccas. Hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, sub-sandwiches, fried items including french fries, shrimp, onion rings, mushrooms, and chicken wings. Corn-dogs, barbecue pork and beef ribs, sausage are also big sellers.
Cotton candy, a variety of ice cream treats, and caramel corn are also very common concession items.

Lots of items to choose 
It is not unusual for the per-cap tally for concession to be $20 and more if the right combination of food items are sold and marketed.  Combo meals are very popular as are large family-style items like large pizza and wing combos.

If managed properly, drive-ins will not only bring in large numbers of admissions but huge concession sales and large profits.  Drive-ins attract a certain type of moviegoer: families looking for a relatively inexpensive night of entertainment, couples on dates, and older folks seeking nostalgia and remembrance of youthful good-times.

Drive-ins are an entertainment bargain.  Where else can you get 6 hours of entertainment for a $10 (or in many cases less) admission, with fireworks thrown in. And, unlike in-door cinemas where patrons are strictly forbidden to bring in food and drinks at drive-ins you can bring whatever you like -  and most moviegoer do, but they also buy a lot of concession.

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