Iconic Cinerama closed indefinitely while drive-ins welcome crowds

SHELTON, Wash.  -- Vehicles pulled into the Skyline Drive-in Theater in Shelton for a fourth night Wednesday.

“I’ve actually never been to a drive-in,” sad Nevaeh Talanoa-Watkins. “I kind of just wanted to get out of the house. I didn’t really care what movies were playing.”

“We’ve been on kind of the sidelines for a while,” said Christopher Mayes, General Manager. “Not really the environment that we’d want to make our come back in but we’re glad that the opportunity is there and we can serve the community.”

Mayes said about 50 to 60 tickets have been presold this first week.

The drive-in theater reopened after Mason County was approved to enter Phase Two.

“I just wanted to get out and see other people, not be stuck in my room,” said Talanoa-Watking.

But the fallout from the coronavirus continues even within the same industry. The iconic Cinerama in Seattle is closed indefinitely.

The downtown Seattle movie theater opened back in 1963. Over the years it went through its share of hardships but it found life again in the 90s after a renovation.

Earlier this year the movie theater closed suddenly for renovations and hasn’t reopened since.

“For the chocolate popcorn alone that’s a huge loss. It was just such a throwback to those huge cinema halls of yesteryear,” said Mayes. “That’s a huge loss in terms of social outlet, people going there, all the memories people have. I hope somebody will step in and be able to save that because, just like the Showbox, it’s a huge landmark for Seattle.”

Under Washington state’s phased Safe Start plan to reopen the economy, indoor movie theaters can reopen during Phase Three with limited capacity.

So for now, only drive-in movie theaters are the option.

“If you’ve never been to the drive-in, if your movie experience is about Netflix, this will introduce you to something new that I think everybody should have,” said Mayes.

There are only five drive-in movie theaters in Washington state, with just about 325 of them in country.

During its peak in the 1950s, there were about 4,000 drive-in theaters in the U.S.