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‘Fun, memorable, entertaining’: Drive-in cinema in Pampanga

Watching movies on the big screen feels like a memory from a long time ago—from the good ‘ol, COVID-free days, if you will. 

‘Fun, memorable, entertaining’: Drive-in cinema in Pampanga
MOVIE UNDER THE STARS. The first drive-in cinema in the Philippines opens in Pampanga, offering movie-goers the chance to once again enjoy films on the big screen while staying safe.
And it looks like we won’t be going back to the movie houses anytime soon, so much so that several high-profile films have been delayed or canceled or released on online streaming platforms (e.g. Mulan on Disney+). 

But industry experts are optimistic. Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said in an interview with USA Today that theaters would be back in business one day. 

“It just may look a little different.” 

The drive-in experience 

A cinema in Pampanga has turned to drive-in format to offer eager movie-goers the experience of once again enjoying films on the big screen with a bunch of other people, while staying safe. 

‘Fun, memorable, entertaining’: Drive-in cinema in Pampanga
Young couple Kyle Decampong and Nina Malveda traveled all the way from Metro Manila on July 31 to experience SM Cinema’s Drive-In ‘Movies at Sundown’ at the SM City Pampanga Amphitheater.
SM City Pampanga opened the country’s first drive-in cinema on July 31, called Movies at Sundown, at its Amphitheater. The opening featured a special screening of the zombie movie sequel, Train to Busan 2: Peninsula.

Movie-goers from Pampanga and Metro Manila flocked to the drive-in cinema for a movie experience under the stars. Some of the guests were couples celebrating their anniversary, city officials and personalities, young movie buffs, and sports car enthusiasts, among others. 

“My SM Drive-in Cinema experience was great,” said Kapampangan beauty queen and broadcast journalist Nicolette Henson-Hizon. “Oh what a trip down memory lane!”

Bajong Pangilinan of the North Boys, a group of sports car enthusiasts, whose members include award winning actor Allen Dizon said that the group “was happy at the good service at the drive-in movie.” 

“It’s a great alternative from the usual way of watching movies at the cinema. Instead of going down, you will stay in your car,” enthused Gerald Bucud.

‘Fun, memorable, entertaining’: Drive-in cinema in Pampanga
Young couple Kyle Decampong and Nina Malveda traveled all the way from Metro Manila on July 31 to experience SM Cinema’s Drive-In ‘Movies at Sundown’ at the SM City Pampanga Amphitheater.
Young movie enthusiasts drove all the way from Manila—armed with travel pass—for the experience. A young couple celebrating their anniversary said, ‘it’s a first time in the Philippines so we would like to be part of history.”

In a TV interview, one of the guests said it was a “nice experience. A good alternative for the new normal.” 

Want to try it?

The SM Cinema Drive-in is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., and only one movie is screened per day, starting at 6:45 p.m.

All tickets must be purchased online in advance (smtickets.com/sm-drive-in-cinema). The P400-per-person ticket includes a Snack Time bundle consisting of bottled water, regular-sized popcorn, and beef franks.

For more food options, food concessions are available on-site, and a separate menu will be provided upon entering the SM Cinema Drive-in. Ordering is easy, too, “simply raise your flags and a server will approach your vehicle to take your orders,” SM Cinema said.  

Only two persons are allowed per vehicle with a maximum of four persons—depending on the size of their cars. Each vehicle will be assigned their parking spots upon arrival. Traffic marshals are present to assist guests and direct them to their designated spot. 

‘Fun, memorable, entertaining’: Drive-in cinema in Pampanga
MOVIE UNDER THE STARS. The first drive-in cinema in the Philippines opens in Pampanga, offering movie-goers the chance to once again enjoy films on the big screen while staying safe.
Once parked, guests will be instructed to turn on their car’s FM radio to a specific frequency to broadcast the audio straight into their vehicles. Guests are also welcome to bring their own radio and other devices with FM capabilities. 

According to SM Cinema, the venue can accommodate between 80 and 90 vehicles per screening, and individuals aged 21-59 will be admitted in accordance with IATF guidelines and safety protocols. 

Topics: SM Cinema , COVID-19 , drive-in cinema , SM City Pampanga
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