Most drive-in cinemas to close in June

Drive-in cinema at the Estonian National Museum in Tartu. Source: Ragnar Vutt.

Most drive-in cinemas will close in June after the government announced cinemas can reopen on June 1 and no company has expressed an interest in creating a permanent venue.

Drive-in cinema at Estonian National Museum to close on June 6

Tartu Electric Theater's drive-in cinema at the Estonian National Museum has proved to be very popular since it launched last month said Andres Kauts, the theater's director and programmer.

He told ERR the venue has almost been at full capacity and ticket sales for the coming weeks are strong. However, viewings will stop on June 6 because the evenings will become too light and customers will not be able to see the screen.

"We will definitely hold the drive-in cinema in the future as well, but rather as an individual event, not as a permanent cinema format," he said, adding there are no plans for a permanent venue in Tartu this summer.

He said the theater has received several invitations to hold a drive-in cinema in other areas of Estonia which they would like to do, but he said it will not make them a lot of money.

Saku Suur Hall will continue screenings until the middle of summer

The indoor drive-in cinema at Saku Suur Hall will continue until the middle of summer

Siim Ammon, the venue's events manager, said they did not launch in parallel with other outdoor cinemas because creating a cinema in an enclosed space has different safety requirements.

"We have been working with various agencies for a long time to ensure maximum safety, and in the second half of this week we plan to start at full speed," he confirmed, adding they held test sessions over the last two weekends and the feedback has been positive. 

As the drive-in cinema is inside it does not depend on the weather, dark evenings, and several screenings can be held each day.

"We also have the largest drive-in cinema screen in the Baltics and we use a real projector to show movies," he said.

In total, 55 vehicles can be accommodated in the hall at one time an Ammon believes they can host 275 a day. "Because of the uniqueness of the indoor drive-in cinema, we have faith the project will be a success until the middle of summer," he said.

He said so far the quality of screening and movie selections offered at other drive-in venues has left customers unimpressed, but the team at Saku Suur Hall are hoping to change people's minds.

Apollo cinema will close drive-in cinema on May 29

Kadri Ärm, CEO of Apollo Kino, said the company has hosted more than 2,000 cars at the open-air cinema for concerts and film screenings at Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.

"We consider the Apollo drive-in cinema a success, but it is not wise for us to continue this project, as the relaxed restrictions no longer favor drive-in events," she said.

The Apollo drive-in cinema will end on May 29 with a concert by Karl-Erik Taukar and a screening of the film "Gentlemen". 

Ärm said although the drive-in cinema was well received by customers and the rules were followed, when cinemas can reopen they do not want to continue with the drive-in.

She also said there is a lot of confusion regarding the reopening of cinemas. 

Rocca al Mare drive-in cinema to close soon

Triin Rohusaar, a representative of Topauto Autokino, which opened in the parking lot of the Rocca al Mare shopping center in Tallinn, said the drive-in cinema will close soon as there has not been much interest from customers.

The most popular screening was of children's movie "Sipsik" and she said, for them, the government's decision to allow drive-in cinemas came too late.

She said: "The decision to open regular cinemas on June 1 also came overnight, in the meantime we were prepared for the cinemas not to be opened at all this summer, but the current situation shows that everything can change at any moment."

If cinemas are reopened on June 1, there are no plans to continue the Topauto cinema for a long time. However, Rohusaar believes the drive-in cinema format could definitely return in the future. 

"Autokino is still something different and those who have been are satisfied," she said but mentioned the problem of white summer nights. "The most important thing is that the cinema, as such, does not die out, the big screen and the charm of leaving home must be kept alive."


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Editor: Helen Wright

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