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Saskatchewan drive-in movie theatres offering nostalgia this summer

A drive-in movie experience is popping up by Saskatoon this weekend to offer customers some cinema under the stars. armedwithharmony.ca / Screenshot

Drive-in movies are getting ready to start up this month to offer some nostalgia under the night skies of Saskatchewan.

According to Denise Kelk, the co-owner of Clearwater Drive-In, they offer a more social atmosphere than regular theatres.

“In an (indoor) theatre, things tend to have to be very quiet, no disturbances. Whereas you come with friends in a vehicle, you can visit during the movie. It’s just a lot more relaxed and if you get nice weather you can sit outside under the stars and it’s just a really great experience,” Kelk said.

Read more: Aurora watch: Saskatchewan skies see uptick in northern lights displays

Armed with Harmony’s Trystan Myers is part of a team about to kick off a pop-up movie theatre by Saskatoon.

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“It’s good news that we’re back. It’s I guess bad news that the pandemic is still here but we’re trying to find a (Saskatchewan Health Authority) SHA-regulated and approved activity so people can actually gather,” Meyers said.

“Maybe share some of the nostalgia that mom and dad had … of how they watched movies back in the day.”

The Clearwater Drive-In northeast of Kyle, Sask., wound up opening later in June 2020, in-between the COVID-19 lockdown and release of the provincial government’s phased-in Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.

“I guess it went OK. We were five weeks late … and with no new movies through the summer, that affected our attendance,” Kelk said.

“We didn’t see a lot of the visitors that we would have a week in July and August. We’re usually fairly busy through the week as well as weekends. That wasn’t the case.

“And I think it was because people weren’t travelling and were staying home so those three reasons accounted for … a revenue decrease from normal.”

The provincial government added drive-in theatres to the first phase of its Re-Open Saskatchewan plan in 2020. Clearwater Drive-In / Facebook

Clearwater Drive-In’s gross revenue was down about 33 per cent in 2020 but it wasn’t their worst season, according to Kelk.

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Meyers said their pop-up outdoor theatre is returning this season with a series called “cinema under the stars” from May 7 to June 12.

“We’ve partnered with a venue called Agar’s Corner, which is just on Floral Road — home of Gordie Howe — just past the new Costco in Saskatoon … We have six weekends lined up and that would be 12 dates but also 24 movies,” Meyers said.

“For younger kids, we’re kind of showing the more animated style of movies, the Pixar and Disney ones like Monsters University and Trolls World Tour and then later ones we’re showing some of the classics like Dirty Dancing, Footloose and Happy Gilmore.”

Read more: COVID-19: Saskatchewan lays out ‘roadmap’ in reopening from pandemic

On Tuesday, the provincial government released its Re-Opening Roadmap, a three-step plan to gradually lift current public health restrictions as Saskatchewan reaches significant COVID-19 vaccination levels.

“It’s certainly looking a lot better this season,” Kelk said.

“I think that’s going to help with people feeling that they can travel and get back to doing more normal things, feeling safer with vaccinations … We’re just waiting for things to get back to normal and so we’re quite optimistic.

“There looks to be a number of new releases coming out in June, July so hopefully with things continuing in a positive manner as far as (with) reopening and vaccinations.”

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This season, Kelk said their first movie of a typically scheduled season will be on May 21 with the last ending on the Labour Day long weekend in September.

Meyers said safety still remains priority number one – even when it comes to the popcorn.

“As per SHA regulations, we’ll provide parking attendants to make sure your vehicles are spaced appropriately … we’ll be scanning you in contact-free with our ticketing system,” he said.

“If you’re looking for concessions, those can be pick-up or drop-off, contact-free as well.

“Following all those rules because, yes, safety is number one and then happy to be able to gather which is great.” 

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage, visit the Global News coronavirus web page.

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