Drive-In to the PAC Picture Show

Cherity (our Super Mom), learned about the PAC Picture Show on Facebook and reserved us a spot – at Newport’s pop up drive-in theater.  We were fortunate to attend the opening night with a presentation of the iconic Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Three months of little activity outside of the house: something to get excited about! Big shout out to the PAC, OCCA and the person whose brain ignited this retro cool concept. Overall, we had a super fun night!

On June 6, 2008 the flag flying over the U.S. Capitol commemorated the 75th birthday of a distinctive slice of Americana: the drive-in movie theater. On that day in 1933, the first theater for the auto-bound, people paid 25 cents per car as well as per person to see the first under the stars. (The Smithsonian)

The Newport Performing Arts Center has set up an easy to navigate website that will walk you through the process of getting your reservation. Due to the popularity – I would recommend that you make a reservation.  I have retraced the process on the PAC website, and it seems as little tricky (for me anyway) to make the reservation:  note that you need to click on the picture of the movie you want watch to navigate to the reservation page with “vehicle type”. (

Both of our family vehicles fit the “SUV” category. As a result, our reservation placed us in the back row. Makes sense because larger vehicles will block smaller vehicles. While the PAC parking lot does have a slight incline and the movie screen is mounted about as high on the Performing Art Center as possible – the screen is not large like a commercial drive in theater. This video should illustrate.

When my last pair of glasses broke I shuffled through my box of back ups. I found an old set that were slightly awkward but seemed to provide enough safety and functionality. Time lapse several months. A little bit of a struggle to observe the finer details. Crack that whip Indiana!

My vision is not the best and I am currently wearing an older glasses prescription. I found myself straining to see the finer details on the screen. If you are like me, I might recommend reserving your evening in the “sedan” category. Closer proximity will provide a more cinematic experience. Justin Gleeson, the PAC’s lead technician has really nailed the audio. Sound was full spectrum and dynamic.

Not surprisingly, we are seeing a drive-in revival of sorts during this time. Google it and you will see what I mean. For example, “For Drive-In Theaters, an Unexpected Revival A retro tradition get a (temporary) boost from social-distancing edicts.” According to the article “Every state has a drive-in movie theater except Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana and North Dakota.” Apparently, there are about 305 left in the United States.

On our next visit we are considering sitting in the back of the vehicle and opening the tail gate. Several times we had to run the car to unfog our windshield which also turned on our running lights. Cherity checked the manual and figured it out. Box checked. My wife reads directions. I struggle, however.

Last year while heading to Portland, we passed The Vintages Trailer Resort and then Newburg’s 99-W Drive-In. At the time, we thought it might be cool to stay a weekend at The Vintages and catch a drive-in movie at the 99. This drive-in was a new concept for Reed and we were looking forward to introducing him to the experience. According to Wiki “The drive-in’s peak popularity came in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly in rural areas, with over 4,000 drive-ins spread across the United States in 1958.”

I hope more families in our community get the opportunity to enjoy our “parking lot theater”.  The audio quality was excellent. We brought our popcorn and treats: bringing your own food is a big savings from a traditional theater experience. Occasionally, the window fogged up. And, it was a little late for our team. If we had toothpicks, I might have used them to prop my eye lids open! What a great time, though. Sharing the experience, socially distanced, next to the ocean, under the stars.

PAC Staff on top of it, literally. Randy Storms on the lift “striking a pose” for maximum effect. You can see his aerial photo on the cover page of the PAC picture show website.

Please consider making a financial contribution, if possible. Your donation in any amount supports the OCCA and helps us to fulfill our mission of celebrating, promoting, and developing community arts. Donate $15 or more and receive a reserved parking space as a ‘thank you’ for supporting the arts on the Oregon Coast!