Fort Worth drive-in theater seeing renewed interest as Texas businesses reopen

Most movie theater chains have decided not to open, but some smaller places are.

A retro way to see a movie on the big screen may prove to be a success once again. That's the drive-in movie theater.

After six weeks with an empty parking lot, Coyote Drive-In Theatre in Fort Worth is once again open for business. But the regulars will probably notice a few changes upon arrival.

General Manager Chris Fortune says he spent two weeks installing signs and marking each parking space to ensure cars keep their distance from one another.

In addition, the concession stand will stay closed and people can’t sit on the grass.

“Social distance yourself wherever possible. Online ordering only. Gotta buy your tickets online,” Fortune said.

After furloughing his 45 staff members back in March, Fortune has re-hired more than 90 percent of them. They spent Friday afternoon cleaning the concession area and restrooms ahead of the first evening feature.

As the pandemic took hold, movie studios pulled big releases, and theaters shut down indefinitely.

Many theater chains, like North Texas-based Studio Movie Grill and Cinemark, don’t plan to reopen.

Fortune says he’s lucky to be in the unique situation of having a drive-in where social distancing can be better enforced.

“It hurt the movie industry more than probably most. And I’m glad we’re getting back. For sure,” he said.

Fortune is relieved to see the 18-acre lot come alive again, even though they’re only allowing a quarter of the parking spaces be used.

Bill De La Campa and his kids are happy to get a front row seat at the movies outside of the house in what’s felt like forever.

“Take baby steps, but we do need to open up the economy and let people back out and enjoy life,” he said.

You can buy your tickets online. The theatre is open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day.