Old Pastimes Are Seeing New Life With Drive-in Theaters

Amidst the pandemic, drive-in movie theaters are quickly becoming 2020’s most delightful trend


Trying to maintain a sense of normalcy while navigating a pandemic has quickly become a priority for most Americans. As the country begins to open up after months of lockdown, brands and companies are finding new ways of making meaningful connections with their customers, while continuing to take social distancing and sanitary precautions. 

According to a recent Morning Consult report, some pastimes, such as board games and drive-in theaters, are seeing new life. Brands are noticing the heightened activity and getting involved. And while it’s tough to predict whether these pastimes will weather the storm, the data suggests that Americans are enjoying starting a new hobby and learning new skills, and they do intend to do these more than they did pre-pandemic. 

Insert the Drive-in Movie Theater and Cue the Nostalgia

Drive-in movie theaters are quickly becoming 2020’s most delightful trend. They offer the advantages of inexpensive, in-person viewing while staying in the comfort, privacy and safety of your own vehicle. Social distancing is built-in, as cars are often parked six or more feet away from each other, and proper COVID-19 protocols make it easier to have fun yet stay safe.

To foster good memories during a tough time, Capital One hosted its own drive-in movie series at the Capital One Center, with proceeds benefiting our nonprofit partner Second Story, an incredible organization providing food, shelter, and emergency support for vulnerable members of the Virginia community impacted by COVID-19. We designed the series as a way for the community to come together as friends, colleagues and neighbors, and support those in need in a meaningful and safe way. At the culmination of the series, movie-goers had donated more than $14k to Second Story, and there was a special video appearance and shout out from Kevin Bacon to keep making a positive impact. Capital One Center is a community-centric destination, and we look forward to hosting more events like this for the public as the center reopens.

In addition, we are sponsoring Film on the Rocks hosted by Denver Film, one of the most popular, highly attended summer film events in the region. With continued restrictions on larger public gatherings and events, this year’s program has been adapted to Film on the Rocks Drive-in and will offer a limited number of guests a chance to enjoy a first-of-its-kind, drive-in movie experience, featuring a variety of cult classics, at the iconic Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. 

Good, Old-fashioned Fun

Morning Consult also suggested that companies exploring different strategies to engage both high- and low-income consumers will be critical to forging new associations and emotional connections with consumers post-pandemic. And, they confirmed that consumers want brands to acknowledge their current reality and provide solutions to their unique needs during the crisis, but that reality and those needs look very different depending on income levels.

Walmart took this to heart and is encouraging folks to grab some popcorn for their recently announced Walmart Drive-in, a free drive-in movie theater experience rolling into 160 Walmart stores across the country beginning this month.

Walmart Drive-in promises families a fun, contact-free experience where they can watch popular films thoughtfully curated by the Tribeca Film Festival. Audiences will be welcomed back to the big screen to enjoy a wide range of films, safely from their own vehicle – from sports stories like The Karate Kid to nostalgic favorites like Back to the Future to animated features like Madagascar. During the tour, filmmakers and special guests will help Walmart celebrate bringing this experience to communities across the country. Drew Barrymore will serve as virtual host for all events, and families will be treated to surprise virtual or in-person appearances from Peter Berg, Jennifer Garner, LeBron James and Chrissy Metz at select showings.

Drive-in movie theaters are not the only thing that Walmart and Capital One have in common. Late last year, Capital One and Walmart introduced a digital-first suite of credit cards that deliver rewards to customers who shop both inside and outside of Walmart. Capital One and Walmart share a customer-centric mindset and a commitment to digital transformation that allowed our companies to seamlessly come together to build a credit card program that has already brought tremendous value to customers. 

Capital One and Walmart share a passion of making customers’ lives more convenient and rewarding, and the launch of the Walmart Drive-in is one way this has come to life.

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