GREENVILLE — Many business owners had to find new and innovative ways to operate during the pandemic, allowing some businesses, such as drive-in movie theaters, to expand and diversify their offerings.
The Greenville Drive-In Outdoor Cinema forged many new partnerships during the pandemic that will continue this year, owner Dwight Grimm said.
“[The pandemic] created a number of unique partnerships, both in the artistic community and the larger community,” Grimm said. “Some of those partnerships are continuing and we’re very excited about that. We’re really trying to be a community arts venue that shows movies, not a movie theater.”
The drive-in will partner again this summer with Basilica Hudson to screen a nonfiction series, Grimm said.
“We’re partnering again, at least for special events, with the Woodstock Film Festival,” Grimm added.
The drive-in’s mid-week family series will make a comeback as well, he said.
“[The series] is to encourage people to come out mid-week as a family unit,” Grimm said.
Tickets on these nights are sold at a discounted rate of $15 per car, instead of charging per person, Grimm said.
The theater will hold its opening night on May 8, which has a Spinal Tap theme, Grimm said.
“We will have a live performance by Nerdcode Hip Hop artist Schaffer The Darklord,” he said. “Leigh [Grimm’s wife] and I will be dressed up and we encourage people to come dressed up. There will be themed cocktails for the night — I’ll be making a cocktail called Smell the Glove. We’ll have Nigel Tufnel green room nosh boxes, which comes with mini pieces of bread and sliced deli meat.”
Grimm said he likes to create an experience for patrons that pair well with the movie.
“We will be showing “Crocodile Dundee” in August with a live kangaroo visit from Bailiwick,” he said. “When we showed “Babe,” we had a therapy pig come in.”
Grimm and his wife will hold their fifth annual typewriter festival this fall, which in years past has featured typewriter poets, the Boston Typewriter Orchestra and films related to typewriters and the importance of communication, Grimm said. The festival is supported with a grant from the Council for Resources to Enrich the Arts, Technology & Education (CREATE), Grimm said.
Other events taking place at the drive-in this season include the Middleburgh High School graduation, a fundraising event for Wave Farm on May 26 and the Hope Rocks Festival on May 13. Hope Rocks is a community recovery event sponsored by Columbia-Greene Community College. “Smacked!” a documentary focused on the heroin epidemic in the western Catskills will be shown.
A farmers market will be held every first and third Saturday at the drive-in, beginning May 15.
“We’ve always been interested in trying to have people use the space during the day,” Grimm said. “It’s a shame to utilize it only at night. It’s a lovely space during the day.”
Grimm said the organizers of the market have had a robust response to the event.
“It sounds like it’s going to be a nice turnout,” he said.
The drive-in has been able to adapt better to COVID restrictions than some other businesses, Grimm said.
“Overall it has been positive for us,” he said. “It has not been without its challenges — we had to change a lot of our protocols and we lost about a month of business last year. Overall, it was a solid year for us [in 2020] and most importantly, it felt like we were providing a much needed social outlet.”
Unlike some other theaters in the area, the Greenville Drive-In was not hurt by the lack of blockbuster releases, Grimm said.
“Number one, we already had retro programming so we knew how to do it,” he said. “Number two, the other movies we did, we were partnering up with Woodstock Film Festival so we had world, or at least American, premieres here. We were showing stuff other people weren’t showing. It’s a hard place to be in when you’re shackled for first-run stuff.”
Another perk was the ability to show Disney films, Grimm said.
“Disney opened their vault for a little bit last year,” he said. “We got to show some movies we would have liked to show in the past but couldn’t. I’m curious to see if they do it again.”
One of these films was “The Empire Strikes Back,” Grimm said.
“I’m a huge old school ‘Star Wars’ fan,” he said. “I can’t even tell you what that meant to me.”
The drive-in will be operating at about 75% capacity, Grimm said, adding that 100% is 270 cars.
The drive-in will open for regular screenings on May 15, beginning with “Groundhog Day.”
The Hi-Way Drive-In in Coxsackie opened for the season April 2. This weekend’s screenings include “Mortal Kombat” and “Godzilla vs Kong”; “Tom & Jerry” and “The Croods”; “The Resort” and “Nobody”; and “Nomadland” and “The Father.” The Hi-Way Drive-In will join dozens of other drive-ins across the nation May 22 for an exclusive airing of a Bon Jovi concert. Tickets go on sale Thursday.