Drive-In Movies Coming to Walmart Parking Lots

It’s not luxury, but it’s a convenient way to experience a film outside the house without abandoning social distancing.

  • There are just over 300 permanent drive-in theaters in the United States, but this year will see 160 more when temporary screens are set up at Walmarts across the country.
  • Family-friendly movies will be on the bill, selected by Walmart’s partners in the Tribeca Drive-in team and showing in selected towns, when the series runs from August to October.
  • Experiences in other parking-lot movie “theaters” suggest that even in an outdoor setting, masks and social distancing are a good idea to enjoy a movie, or a double feature, safely.

Beware of a run on popcorn in the grocery aisle at Walmart. The corporate behemoth has decided to turn some of its parking lots into socially distant drive-in movie theaters this summer, one more example of everything around us changing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With coronavirus lockdowns closing movie theatre across the U.S., drive-in movie theaters have seen a resurgence in popularity since they can be a reasonably safe alternative to indoor movie watching. But not every town has one of these old baseball-field-size screening locations, and so Walmart saw an opportunity. The retail giant is partnering with Tribeca Enterprises (started by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal and known for organizing the Tribeca Film Festival) to set up a touring drive-in movie theater experience that will put the outdoor movie experience into Walmart parking lots.

There will be a total of 320 showings at 160 store parking lots across the country, which will—temporarily, at least—add about 50 percent to the total number of drive-in theaters in the U.S. Exactly which movies will be screened has not been announced, but Walmart said that the list will include family-friendly films curated by the Tribeca Drive-in team, as well as “special appearances from filmmakers and celebrities.” Perhaps this will give us the chance to see an A-lister’s house on the big screen, from the comfort of our cars with concessions delivered from the store to the window. Curbside pickup will also be available.

By Sebastian Blanco


Walmart will host the screenings from August through October.