As local economies attempt to return to some semblance of normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the film industry continues to take a hit, with theaters remaining closed, numerous tent pole summer blockbusters pushed back, and major film festivals attempting to compensate with alternate programming.
Tribeca Enterprises, behind Manhattan’s annual Tribeca Film Festival, is one such organization that has been looking to find new ways to connect with moviegoers. That includes a multi-state drive-in series.
The Tribeca Drive-In will bring classic films, comedy acts and more to venues around the country all summer, including the Rose Bowl, every Thursday through Sunday, from July 2 to July 26.
“I think from the minute we all were told get back to your house in lockdown, we tried to figure out ways that we could engage the community, which is really the basis of Tribeca’s existence,” explains film and television producer Paula Weinstein, Tribeca Enterprises’ executive vice president, referring to the festival’s revitalization efforts in New York after 9/11.
Weinstein says Tribeca’s long-running drive-in movie program is a favorite aspect of her job. After deciding to expand it, Tribeca organizers brainstormed new locations, partnerships and films while also figuring out ways to ensure social distancing and sanitation. Weinstein says programming is different, in that the focus is now on beloved movies and classics as opposed to the festival’s usual discovery model.
“Festivals like Tribeca are mostly independent films, so we thought, ‘OK, this is a wider audience. So, what do you go to a drive-in to see? Fan favorites.’ And that’s what we did,” Weinstein explains, noting that a large part of curation went into refreshing audiences on previous entries in current franchises, exposing younger audiences to classics, and just choosing films that people may have never seen on the big screen. The schedule is extensive.
Fourth of July will celebrate “The Wizard of Oz,” “Apollo 13” and “Field of Dreams.”
Some Sundays will include sports movies, like “Space Jam” and “Creed” (July 5) as well as “Friday Night Lights” (July 19).
Early-afternoon films for kids include “Inside Out” (July 11), “Spy Kids” (July 12) and “The Lego Movie” (July 25).
High school comedies “Mean Girls” and “Superbad” will be shown on July 17.
The N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” will hit the screen July 18.
“Meet the Parents” and its sequel “Meet the Fockers” will play July 23.
Ladies’ Night, July 24, will feature “Girls Trip” and “Bridesmaids.”
Spike Lee’s “Inside Man” and “Do the Right Thing” will screen July 25.
Other classics include “The Goonies” (July 18), “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and “Beetlejuice” (July 26), while some modern hits include “John Wick” and “The Dark Knight” (July 16) as well as “Wonder Woman” (July 19).
The new romantic comedy “Palm Springs,” starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti and J.K. Simmons, will also screen, on July 9.
Planners also looked for anniversaries, a major one being the 45th year of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” which Weinstein calls “the ultimate summer scary great movie.” That will screen July 2 but is sold out. “Apollo 13” is also celebrating 25 years.
While Weinstein wouldn’t reveal any details, some filmmakers and others are slated to introduce movies. Upcoming film teasers are planned, too.
“We all have very good relationships with the studios, and the studios have been great because it’s very clear we cannot wait for the movie theaters to open and for everybody to be able to go back to see a movie,” Weinstein says. “We’re not in competition with that. We are supportive of that. And, it also I think gives the studios a chance to know that people are out there experiencing movies together in a safe way.”
Films aside, Tribeca has partnered with Comedy Dynamics to host four standup shows at the Rose Bowl the weekend of July 9 through July 12: Dave Helem, Ester Steinberg, Daniel Webb and Erica Rhodes. The shows will be taped for a wider release down the road, which Weinstein says “should be a fun experience.”
Tribeca will also support the community. According to a press release, a portion of ticket proceeds will be donated to Black Lives Matter. Additionally, essential workers will be offered complimentary access and reserved parking the first night at each venue.
“It’s our way of saying thank you,” Weinstein says, adding that the events will employ hundreds of people at each site and look to partner with local food trucks on concessions. “This is, in our minds, also an economic development revitalization plan, just the way it was when Jane (Rosenthal) and Bob (De Niro) started the festival.”
As event partners, Tribeca announced AT&T will provide other on-site entertainment, like photo ops, film trivia and giveaways, while IMAX will lead on the technology front with its Digital Re-Mastering process, technological support and equipment for venues, and film curation assistance.
“The hope is that the audience comes and has a wonderful time, and that the essential workers and the people in Pasadena and the local other areas around find enjoyment, employment, putting some people back to work or helping them restart their businesses in some way — if we can help, that’s what we want to do,” Weinstein says. “That will give us great joy.” n
The Rose Bowl is located at 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena. For a full schedule and tickets, visit tribecafilm.com/drive-in/rosebowl.