Owner of Sask. drive-in theatre confident his business will reopen next month

While it looked a little dicey earlier this year, Don Zaba is confident the Twilite Drive-in Theatre in Wolseley, Sask., will start screening films again in May. 

Drive-in theatres were included in the list of non-essential businesses shut down last month, but Zaba believes that’s about to change.

He said he was assured by his local MLA that he would be able to start screening films by next month.

“It was pretty exciting, but we have to be on the cautious side,” Zaba said.

“We want to control the virus,” he said.

The move could be part of a larger reopening of the province’s economy. Premier Scott Moe is expected to supply more information on this during a live television broadcast Wednesday evening.

The provincial ministry of health said discussions are continuing around opening some businesses, but no official decisions have been made. Until those decisions are announced, those businesses are to remain closed.

Zaba said drive-in theatres are uniquely positioned to operate in an age of physical distancing, as viewers normally stay in their cars.

However, some changes would have to be made, he acknowledged. Concessions would be limited to take-out only, for example.

The owner is more concerned about what movies he’ll be able to play. Many movie studios have pushed back their first-run opening dates by months.

He believes his first screening for the year will be Trolls: World Tour on May 15.

Concession concerns

Meanwhile, the operator of another drive-in theatre in Saskatchewan is concerned about potential new rules she may face in the future.

Tara Hayden, manager of the Jubilee Drive-in in Manitou Beach, Sask., said that while she hasn’t heard of any pending opening date, she has heard about potential restrictions the drive-in might face.

She’s been told cars may have to be separated by four to six metres, and only one person will be allowed out of the car at a time.

“This year is going to be very different,” she said.

“There’s definitely going to be some changes and some challenges.”

Hayden said she was most concerned with anything that might affect concession sales, which account for a large part of her business.

“The movie companies take a big chunk of the ticket proceeds and so really the money is made in the concession,” she said.

“If we can’t have people come in to the concession, that might be a challenge.”

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