THE retro iso trend that has swept the globe is coming back to Ballarat: a drive-in theatre.
Showbiz Cinemas and Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society are teaming up to deliver a pop-up classic in a six-month deal to bring a little movie magic back to a big screen in a fortnight's time.
Cinemas in Victoria remain closed under government pandemic restrictions without a clear start date to re-open but a resurgence of drive-in popularity got Showbiz Cinemas director Chris Jones exploring a revival in Ballarat. Perhaps fittingly, the location is Ballarat Showgrounds.
Mr Jones said the project had taken time to get to action stages but should prove popular with warmer weather and slightly eased social restrictions in regional Victoria.
"There is a whole generation of people who have never experienced the drive-in," Mr Jones said. "This is an opportunity to run film theatrically outdoors. I've seen it become big again overseas, particularly in North America where they've made old cinemas into drive-ins again and pop-ups."
Ballarat has been without a drive-in for almost 30 years. Village Southern closed in June 1991 showing Home Alone, Sleeping with the Enemy, Edwards Scissorhands and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
The new Showgrounds cinema will be a block or so away from where Skyline stood off Norman Street from 1954 to 1984. All that remains on the site are nostalgic street names after movie greats: Bogart Drive, Redford Drive, Spielberg Court and Newman Court.
For those accustomed to movies on live streaming platforms in iso - and those who know little different - drive-ins offer the chance to wear your pyjamas to go out. This is the advice Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society executive officer Elizabeth van Beek is giving parents.
"If you've got children, stick them in pyjamas and a dressing gown and pop them in bed when you get home. You can't do that much anywhere else," Ms van Beek said.
"I think it will be really popular and a lot of people will be wanting to go. For a lot of people, it will be very nostalgic. They will think back and remember when they used to do this and now they can do it with their children or grandchildren.
"I cannot wait to rock up on a Friday or Saturday night and see the showgrounds filled with cars watching a movie."
Ms van Beek said hosting a drive-in was an exciting opportunity to showcase BAPS, particularly in a year without Ballarat Show or trash and treasure markets.
She said with BAPS planning to relocate to new showgrounds in Mount Rowan, this could prove to be a potential future use for the site.
Instead of speakers that hook into your car window - always a challenge for rainy nights - movie-goers will be able to tune into the film's soundtrack via FM radio in their cars.
A full candy bar will operate with popcorn, choc top ice-creams and lollies and a food truck will serve up hamburgers, hotdogs and doughnuts.
All tickets and candy bar purchases must be made online.
Mr Jones said there would be a mix of nostalgic, old-school drive-in movies mixed with new movies. There will be two sessions each night: the first family-friendly, the second aimed for an adult audience.
The drive-in will screen two nights a week from November 13 and is likely to expand to more nights should the concept prove popular.
Tickets go on sale from this weekend.
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