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Walmart is converting 160 of its parking lots into drive-in movie theaters



With the coronavirus pandemic continuing the hamper movie theater reopenings, drive-ins are making a comeback. Now, Walmart, of all businesses, is getting into the act.

Starting in August, Walmart will convert 160 of its U.S store parking lots into pop-up drive-ins with the help of Tribeca Enterprises, the media venture co-founded by Robert de Niro. Tribeca, which operates a popular film festival in New York, will handle the programming until the drive-in operation concludes in October.

“This family-friendly night will include hit movies, special appearances from filmmakers and celebrities, and concessions delivered right to customer vehicles,” Walmart said in statement. The stores adjacent to the parking lot will allow moviegoers to pick up snacks and drinks for the screenings at the curbside.

Locations, dates, pricing, and programming have yet to be announced, but Walmart has set up a website promising to updates in the near future.

Prior to the pandemic, a little over 300 drive-in theaters were still in operation in the United States, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. That’s down from an estimate of more than 4,000 during the theaters’ heyday in the 1950s.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge in the U.S., the future of standard indoor cineplexes remains unclear. Earlier this week, the nation’s two largest theater chains—AMC and Regal—pushed back expected reopening dates for most theaters nationwide to July 30 and July 31, respectively, after Christopher Nolan’s upcoming blockbuster Tenet was once again delayed, this time to July 31.

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