99W Drive-In looks forward to strong season
With winter winding down, many people have their eyes set toward spring. And that includes moviegoers.
Brian Francis, owner of the 99W Drive-In and Cameo Theater, said he's gearing up for the 66th season of the drive-in similar to past years: he's hoping to open around Easter or spring break time.
"The actual opening date is up in the air," he said.
Typically the drive-in opens in late March or early April, Francis said, and while nothing is set in stone, he guessed it could be open in three or four weeks.
"Our pattern has been late March or early April in the past several years," he said. "Once you're open, you're open, heck or high water."
Francis said he thinks this 66th year for the drive-in will be a good one, based on the quality of movies coming out in the spring and summer. He's been posting on Facebook, asking what people want to see, and said he's gotten good feedback, either for new movies like "Captain Marvel" or for oldies like "Grease."
"There's a lot of interest and enthusiasm," Francis said. "I start getting emails or texts from people saying, 'I can't wait for it to open.'"
As for operations, Francis said patrons can expect business as usual. He added that the drive-in won't be raising admission rates like it did last year, and aside from maybe some new equipment, everything should be the same.
Francis said he constantly gets requests from patrons to play classic movies, but at this point he knows what's going to work. He looks to Facebook to see what other people are clamoring for. For example, he said someone might request a John Wayne Western movie, and two or three people on Facebook might respond to the post. But when someone asks for "Grease," hundreds of people respond.
"I'm trying to fill as many cars as possible," Francis said. "The setting of that drive-in works with old classic movies."
However, Francis said he anticipates this year being a big year for families, with several child-friendly movies set to be big pictures this year.
"There's an awful lot of kid and family movies that there weren't last year," Francis said.
He added that he likes to start the season off soft. Opting into a blockbuster locks you into a movie, he said, and there are plenty of movies for him to choose from to start the season.
"It's looking like it will be a good season with movies," Francis said.