After announcing the first drive-in movie at 7318 Windsong Drive in North Little Rock this spring, the drive-in is still going strong – just quietly. In fact, there’s no public website or Facebook page for the drive-in, just a private Facebook group. While that may sound strange, it’s exactly the way the organizers want it. And it works successfully.
“It’s been going well. People are happy to have something to do that feels safe and gets them out of the house for some nostalgic entertainment.
“With only 40-50 spots available (depending on weather and ground conditions), I haven’t been promoting outside of the private Facebook group,” said organizer James Snyder in a Facebook message. “Still, I have been hoping to grow the group to about 10,000 people and currently at 8,200.”
More than 8,000 in a private Facebook group is pretty extraordinary. Gives the feeling of being “in on something” but with plenty of people to fill those 40-50 spots every week at the drive-in. But there’s plenty of room for you, you can join the group here. The group posts upcoming movie nights and gets feedback from followers.
Located in the parking lot of Oasis Church at 7318 Windsong Drive in North Little Rock, the drive-in opens at 8 p.m. and the film starts at 8:40 p.m. for each showing. On double feature nights, the second film starts immediately after the first. The August lineup includes:
- Smokey & The Bandit / The Last Ride – Saturday, August 8
- The Big Lebowski – Thursday, August 13 (20 car limit)
- The Goonies / Better Off Dead – Friday, August 14 & Saturday, August 15
- Pretty Woman / Come Early Morning – Friday, August 21 & Saturday, August 22
- Empire Records – Thursday, August 27 (20 car limit)
- Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark / Enemy Mine – Friday, August 28 & Saturday, August 29
The lineup purposely includes films with Arkansas ties. Organizer Christopher Farris Terry explained on the page: “Aug. 8 is a double feature from Arkansas directors Hal Needham (Smokey & Bandit), and Harry Thomason (Last Ride)! And yes, Come Early Morning is from NLR Ole Main graduate Joey Lauren Adams. All 3 movies were filmed in Arkansas, but Com[e] Early Morning & The Last Ride were entirely in central Arkansas.”
So how does it work? Yes, you can buy tickets ahead of time to reserve a spot, but it’s not necessary.
“The model we’ve used all along is that attending the Drive In is free, but if you want to make an advance reservation to assure you have a spot, you can donate $20 and we’ll save your spot,” Snyder explained. “All unreserved spots are given away for free on a first come first served basis, and we keep a donation bucket at the gate for those who wish to put something in. We’ve designed it this way because we know there are a lot of other people out of work and struggling to make ends meet, and we’ve encouraged those people to bypass the donation bucket and just enjoy the movie.”
The drive-in began soon after the coronavirus pandemic hit Arkansas.
“As a concert and event promoter, my livelihood has been at a standstill for several months,” Snyder said. “In late 2019, I reached an agreement with a local radio station to bring back a major concert event that had been gone for several years – it was going to be my 2020 – and the pandemic hit. After a couple of months in isolation, a friend reminded me that we’d talked about doing a Drive In event and the timing seemed right for it.”
With daily coronavirus updates for Arkansas and ever-changing projections, the organizers plan to continue with the drive-in until events and concerts can be held safely again.
Until then, if you need a fun diversion and a reason to get out of the house, give the ol’ drive-in a try. They hope to continue mixing in family-friendly films as well.