Mthe shutdown now lasts more than two weeks. Hardly anything works. No pub, no cinema, no department store. Everything is closed. Really everything? No. There are three drive-in cinemas in Essen, Cologne and Stuttgart that are defying the crisis. They are open and give ideas, while others like the one in Gravenbruch near Frankfurt or the one in Munich-Aschheim remain closed by order of the authorities.
That was also the case in Essen at first. But operator Frank Peciak fought and received an exceptional permit. The cinema is a welcome change for visitors.
Of course, special rules apply. Tickets can only be ordered online, a maximum of two people can sit in the car or a family with their children up to 14 years. The age rating of the films is strictly observed. Because the snack bar is closed, food should be brought along. Admission is contactless and the ticket is scanned through the window pane. The toilets are open, but only one person is allowed on the site. The staff strictly observe the Corona contact rules, it is said.
There are two performances every evening, admission costs eight euros per person. “Joker” (from 16 years) runs late at night and “Nightlife” (from 12 years) at 9pm. Although the cinema in Essen has space for up to 1000 cars, it is currently hardly possible to get tickets. The same applies to the cinemas in Stuttgart-Kornwestheim and Cologne-Porz. Porz, too, had been closed for a short time because of Corona. During these times, some would certainly have to accept a journey of up to 200 kilometers, just to catch a bit of normalcy again.
Drive-in cinemas are an American invention, how could it be otherwise. The first opened there in 1933. The first in Germany and one of the first in Europe was the cinema in Gravenbruch near Frankfurt, which gave its first screening almost exactly 60 years ago, on March 31, 1960. It was “The King and I” with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, the entry cost DM 2.75.
Gravenbruch has survived to this day, it is one of the most visited venues in Germany in non-Corona times. The other cinema in the Rhein-Main area at the Main-Taunus-Zentrum in Sulzbach was closed in 1994 after having been in operation for 26 years. At its best in the 1970s, there were around 40 venues in West Germany, a good dozen remained, including temporary cinemas like that on Rügen. They were particularly popular with couples who wanted to be alone. The last row was generally considered the “Love Lane”.
And even in the GDR there was a drive-in cinema in Zempow, Brandenburg, opened in 1977. This had to close in 2018, like others that opened in Magdeburg or Rostock after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The cinema in Langenhessen near Zwickau wanted to start again at the end of March, but has now postponed the start. The “Autokino Bärlin” in Treptow is currently moving to Nauen.
Anyone looking for distraction must try it in Essen, Cologne or Stuttgart and bring a lot of patience. It is not possible to move to Switzerland or Austria. The three Swiss houses are closed due to Corona, the only drive-in cinema ever to be found in Austria, in Groß-Enzersdorf near Vienna, went bankrupt in 2015.