The country’s first-ever drive-in cinema has taken Filipinos — particularly the local magical world of cinephiles — by storm.
To be honest about it, I have always been a big movie buff myself since college — being an active member of various film organizations then — to the point of even co-founding one. In fact, even before the pandemic, I was in the movie house at least once a week like clockwork. And so, when I first heard the news that drive-in cinemas were going to hit our shores a few months ago despite the ongoing pandemic, I was ecstatic.
Even more so when I personally received a movie invite from Ford Philippines’ PR agency for the film showing of Peninsula/Train to Busan 2 at SM Mall of Asia’s Movies by the Bay — you more or less get the picture of how I felt. It was a manna from heaven. Couple this with the lend-out of its latest prodigy, the Ford Territory — and indeed — I was in for a real treat.
At first — being unprecedented — I didn’t have any idea of how the experience was going to be like. Just imagine the scene from the movie: Ford v Ferrari wherein Henry Ford II was taken for one exhilarating shotgun ride by Carroll Shelby inside the legendary Ford GT for the first time. (Google it if you haven’t seen it).
That’s basically how I personally felt during this one-of-a-kind cinematic treat. I was in a different whole new universe. And to just clearly emphasize how I truly felt — not to mention in honor of the marvelous realm of cinema — this motion picture game-changer in the local scene allowed me to describe the whole experience with a little twist by quoting lines from a few of my favorite movies and combining them with a little of my own personal take of this historic cinematic event in my life.
“They could never have imagined, those pioneers who invented the automobile that it would possess us like this, our imaginations, our dreams. Men love women, but even more than that, men love cars” — Lord Hesketh (Rush, 2013)
Yes, the love of cars. This was probably perhaps one of the reasons why they first put up the very first drive-in cinema in the United States as early as 1920. With their wild imaginations, it was obvious that inventors of this kind of entertainment couldn’t just ditch their cars for some hookup. Inside their own cars, the experience was more private and intimate compared to being out there in the open. Drive-ins then flourished up until the 1960s before organizers decided it was not anymore feasible.
In our case, this concept would not have been introduced in our local entertainment industry if not for the imposed movie theater shutdowns and quarantine restrictions. Blame the virus for this sudden surge, perhaps?
“You can’t just walk out of a drive-in” — Danny Zuko (Grease, 1978)
John Travolta may have implied a different message here in one of his drive-in trysts. But one cannot just walk out of a drive-in — or in this case — your car in a whim.
Safety protocols were imposed and only a maximum of four persons were allowed in a car. From checking one’s temperature at the entrance, to contactless payments, unabatingly announcing safety reminders from its 20-meter long and eight-meter high movie screen, strict wearing of facemasks and filled-up contact tracing forms, they were diligent. Even social distancing inside the vehicle was also imposed to observe strict protocols and to avoid — ehem — any hanky-panky.
Good thing a bag of popcorn, hotdog and water was provided for all occupants. One can already get this and a whole new movie treat for P400. Not bad.
“That was the best acting I’ve ever seen in my whole life” — Trudi Fraser (Once upon a Time in Hollywood, 2019)
11-year-old Trudi Fraser may have been referring to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton here in the 2019 flick Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (wherein a drive-in cinema was also shown in one of the scenes), but if I were to say this to a person and tweak it a little bit — it would be to the people of SM Cinema for coming up with this brilliant idea.
Not to mention, I’d say this to the people behind the American carmaker who invited us for this treat. You see, the movie’s audio was transmitted via FM frequency. And with the superb sound system of the Ford Territory complemented by the premium feel of its interiors from exceptional leather seats, to the wooden veneers, cup holders and the exquisite panoramic moonroof — no quality and amount of cinematic experience in the past could ever top this.
Being a movie buff myself, I would personally say: “That was the best movie I’ve ever experienced in my whole life”.
“We’re going to make history” — Carroll Shelby (Ford v Ferrari, 2019)
If you’ve seen this American film, you pretty much have an idea of the kind of person Carroll Shelby was. He was driven and even more so — persevering. And I say that these kinds of people make colorful wonderful stories in history.
Speaking of wonderful stories, one SM Cinema executive even said in one report: “The first SM Drive-in cinema drew an overwhelming reception from the public. Tickets are selling fast. There was a positive response from the public as it was an innovative, fun and safe way of watching movies.”
With the company’s steadfast outlook and this revolutionary take on watching movies, they definitely made history. And I’m glad I was part of it.
Now, pardon me for this rather different take on this motoring piece. Clearly, it’s not that obvious how much I’ve missed going to the movies after six months of holding back.