Drive-In Theaters Emerging as Popular Leisure Venue

Article excerpt

Remember the scene in ``Cinema Paradiso'' in which a movie is being projected on the outside wall of a building in a small Italian town late at night?

The audience, which consisted of the people of the small town, closely sat together watching the movie but suddenly scurried away when a heavy rain started to fall. If you are a movie aficionado, the scene may bring back fuzzy memories and a sense of nostalgia locked away in your heart.

Watching movies has become one of the fastest-growing leisure activities in Korea. People, especially the younger generations, are swarming to theaters, though they are mostly indoor facilities in downtown areas.

You are probably not an exception. How about trying drive-In theaters for a change? The first drive-in in the world opened on June 6, 1933 in the U.S., and is now a part of the genre's bygone history. In Korea however, the trend has only recently taken root and boomed in time with the recent proliferation of Korea's automobile culture.

Compared with indoor theaters, drive-ins have several advantages. First, since they are outside, the theaters bring a sense of openness to Seoulites, who often work in a crammed office all day long.

Watching movies under the stars is one of today's fascinating novelties.

Whether it rains or snows, it will be sure to add a romantic touch couples on a date can enjoy in their cars.

Second, the audience can watch the movie in the cozy comfort of their climate-controlled cars, and they don't have to pay much attention to the people parked next to them.

Most of all, admission fees are cheaper or similar to those of indoor theaters. There is a flat fee per-car and it doesn't matter how many people are inside the car. Though it varies, on average, the admission fee is 15,000 won ($11).

In addition, some drive-ins offer discounts for viewers who bring a coupon, which you can print out on paper using a regular printer by visiting the theaters' homepages. On average, the coupon can get you discounts of as much as 20 percent.

At a drive-in, the audience can hear the movie's sound on their FM car stereo. All you have to do is to sit comfortably in your automobile with the engine turned off and the radio at the desired volume and tuned in to the frequency of the movie audio transmission. And thanks to modern air- conditioning, there is no need to roll down your window and let those irritating bugs in.

A theater official said people in their 20s and 30s take the lion's share of visitors but families also frequently come because the theaters provide a cozy family atmosphere.

For families with young children, it is safe to say that drive-ins are made for them as they can conveniently feed a little toddler or change his diaper, things seldom allowed in an indoor theater.

``Drive-ins are a perfect place for me to see movies as I can feed my toddler and even change a diaper in my own car,'' said a 30 year-old man who frequently visits a drive-in with his family. ``Even better is that I can watch the movie by sitting comfortably in my car.''

The audience should remember to always dim their cars' headlights before leaving the parking lot while the movie is still running as their headlights can blind other moviegoers still watching the movie.

Trucks and vans, due to their high roofs, are required to park in the rear of the lot or at the ends of rows.

In Seoul alone, five such theaters are currently in operation.

Club EOE 4 is one of the Drive-in Theaters.[unknown characters]Located across the National Theater of Korea, Club EOE 4 not only runs current blockbusters, but also clips of driver-perspective rides up to Seoul Tower on Namsan Mountain.

In spring, flowers such as cherry blossoms and forsythia in full bloom line each side of the road leading to the Tower, adding to the romantic aura.

The theater, which opened on November 1998, has so far attracted more than 80,000 moviegoers. …