Films from the dashboard: Drive-in movies are popping up all over

Anyone else catch the “Grease” sing-along on CBS this summer? The 1978 musical classic hasn’t, perhaps, aged the best in the 40-plus years since its release, but it invoked a nostalgia for something most Bay Area residents hadn’t seen much in the decades before the pandemic struck: a drive-in movie. 

Viewers prepare to enjoy a movie from the safety of their cars at Cameo Cinema’s drive-in in St. Helena. The theater has since closed for the season because of wildfires (Photo by Tim Carl, courtesy Cameo Cinema)

San Francisco officials plan to allow indoor theaters to reopen at 50% capacity in November. Some indoor movie theaters in Napa, Marin, Solano and San Mateo counties have already reopened with limited capacity. Yet recently, the Regal Cinemas chain announced it will temporarily close all of its movie theaters across the United States.

But if you’re still too worried about catching COVID to attend an indoor movie, that’s OK. Find yourself a Danny Zuko, or at least someone with a license and car, and mosey on over to one of the new theaters of yesteryear.


Pier 70

San Francisco is a city of collaboration. Pier 70 has teamed up with food-entrepreneur incubator La Cocina, as well as a slew of independent theaters including the Roxie, the Vogue and the Balboa to bring the city Dinner And A Drive-In

Where: 20th St at Illinois St, San Francisco,

When: 8 p.m. Saturdays, October 24 and 31

How much: $65 includes a ticket for one vehicle and two meal servings  

Choice flick: It’s sold out, but “Blindspotting” on Oct. 24!


The New Parkway

It’s refreshing to watch a movie in a theater on a sofa. Or on a dining room chair, or even a beanbag. Such is the New Parkway’s way, and this flexibility is why it was able to adapt to outdoor screenings. It’s hosted some outdoor screenings nearby in Oakland’s Uptown District in August and September, and its theaters are available to book for private rentals. But the New Parkway doesn’t plan to reopen to the public until a vaccine is available.

Where: 474 24th St, Oakland with outdoor screenings at Heist, 440 25th St., Oakland, (510) 338-3228,

When: No outdoor new screenings are scheduled, but keep checking the site


West Wind Drive-In Concord

While hundreds, even thousands, of businesses have closed in the Bay Area due to the pandemic, at least one has been revived. The Concord location of the West Wind Drive-In Movie Theater has reopened to bring back some affordable films. Running Oct. 19-30, the Halloween-themed 13 Nights of Fright features 100 family-friendly fright flicks as well as horror movies for an older crowd.

Where: 1611 Solano Way, Concord, (925) 825-1951 or (925) 687-6445,

When: Every day, shows are in the evening, check schedule for showtimes.

How much: $8.50 per person general admission, $2 per children ages 5-11, and free for children age 4 and under. On Tuesday Family Fun Nights, tickets are $5.50 per person, $2 per children ages 5-11, and free for children age 4 and under.

Alameda County Fairgrounds

Despite canceling the 2020 county fair, the fairgrounds have plenty planned for the rest of the year, including Under the Stars Drive-In Movies with “Hotel Transylvania” and “Sleepy Hollow” screening on Oct. 31.

Where: 4501 Pleasanton Ave, Pleasanton, (925) 426-7600

When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

How much: $35 for parking


Corte Madera

Marin’s Lark Theater is bringing movies to a parking lot near you — if you live in the North Bay. Drive up to screenings of classics old and new every weekend evening.

Where: North Parking Lot of The Village at Corte Madera, 1557 Redwood Hwy, Corte Madera, (415) 924-5111,

When: 7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 9:15 p.m. Saturdays

How much: $15-$35 per vehicle

Choice flicks: “What We Do in the Shadows,” Thursday, Oct. 29, and “Beetlejuice,” Friday, Oct. 30.


San Jose

West Wind also has a San Jose location, Capitol Drive-In, for those in the South Bay, with an exclusive lineup of double-feature nights, and the same spine-tingling Halloween lineup as its Concord compatriot.

Where: 3630 Hillcap Ave, San Jose, (408) 226-2251 or (408) 226-2289,

When: Daily evening screenings, Oct. 19-31.

How much: Same prices apply to this location: $8.50 per person general admission, $2 per children ages 5-11, and free for children age 4 and under. On Tuesday Family Fun Nights, tickets are $5.50 per person, $2 per children ages 5-11, and free for children age 4 and under.

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