Drive-in movies are back … at least in Farmington

by Nick Gonzales

Culturally and politically, some groups in this country want a return to the way things were in the mid-20th century. This definitely isn’t the forum to talk about that, but there is one thing that I think most of us can agree would make America great again if they were brought back: drive-in movie theaters.

As someone who grew up in Durango, one of the things the town has lost that I’m most nostalgic for was The Rocket Drive-In. Sitting on the lot between Walmart and Home Depot where Rocket Pointe Apartments now exist, the drive-in closed in 2004 after 47 years of service. Perfect for family nights, date nights, or re-enacting scenes from “Grease,” it was an institution that occupied a cultural space independent from the city’s indoor cinemas.

One of the silver linings to the COVID-19 epidemic is that Allen Theaters, which runs cinemas in Durango, Cortez, and throughout New Mexico, is using vacant parking lots to bring drive-ins back … in Farmington and Las Cruces.

According to the Allen 8 Facebook page, beginning June 8 and lasting through July or until indoor theaters reopen, the temporary Farmington drive-in will be located at McGee Park at 41 Road 5568.) Gates open at 7:30 p.m. and films start when the sun goes down. There is a 68 car limit and tickets cost $20 per car. Fridays and Saturdays appear to be double features.

Hollywood isn’t releasing new movies, so the theaters are forced to re-show old ones, which is still pretty cool. Farmington’s In opening-weekend showings include “Jurassic World” and “Superbad” on Friday, “Grease” and “The Conjuring” on Saturday, and “The Blues Brothers” on Sunday. (Some of those repeat Monday through Wednesday – the schedules will likely continue to be posted on the Facebook page.) There are concessions and bathrooms there, and New Mexico’s social distancing rules are being enforced throughout.

I hope this enterprise turns out very successful – enough for them to branch out and try this in open spaces in the other communities they serve – I can think of quite a few large, open, flat spaces (especially parking lots) near Durango and Cortez. Though if anybody else wants to pick up this ball and run with it, that would be fine too – the number of outdoor movie nights throughout the region in 2019 would seem to indicate there’s an interest in alternative movie-watching opportunities.

I didn’t expect to get to say this during the pandemic, but: See you at the movies (albeit from one car window to another)!

Nick Gonzales

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