By Derek Wilson
It’s movie night in Corte Madera again. While quarantine restrictions have shut down movie theaters in Marin and across the state, drive-in movies are making a comeback.
The Lark Theater and The Village at Corte Madera are partnering for a weekly Movies Under the Stars series, which premiered Thursday, July 23, with “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
“I was trying to figure out what the future would look like for The Lark and things looked dim for theaters as the quarantine continued,” said Ellie Mednick of The Lark. “I started thinking about a drive-in because they are opening across the country. Drive-ins are becoming very successful as an option during quarantine.”
The shows continue this week with a musical trio, featuring “Dirty Dancing” on Thursday, followed on Friday and Saturday by “Grease” and “The Rolling Stones: Havana Moon”. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. and showtime is at 9 p.m.
There hasn’t been a drive-in movie theater in Marin in decades. Mednick said she vaguely remembers going to the drive-in with her children in the Sixties in San Rafael where Marin Square is currently located.
“Some drive-ins have sustained all these years,” Mednick said. “Now, those theaters that were dead or dying have been revived.”
A partnership with The Lark, The Village shopping center and the Town of Corte Madera is bringing drive-in movies to town. A screen will be set up in the overflow parking lot across the street from The Village. There will be space for about 100 cars and the passengers can tune in the sound on their car radio.
“One fun thing was people honked their horns when the movie theme started playing, or they’d flash their lights when the end credits started rolling,” Mednick said after two similar and successful drive-in showings at the Bon Air Center earlier this year.
The Lark Theater on Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur has been closed since mid-March since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theater hasn’t exactly been idle as construction crews have been working on the HVAC system and offices there.
“We need to sustain The Lark,” Mednick said. “The building is closed for now, but we’ve been able to keep all our staff. I hope we can maintain this business.”
Mednick looked at other properties for a drive-in, including the College of Marin parking lot near the athletic facilities, Redwood High School and the parking lot at the now-closed Century Theater across Highway 101 from The Village. None of the sites quite fit the bill, but Mednick said the Town of Corte Madera and The Village were enthusiastic about the chance to help The Lark.
Movies will air weekly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The cost for tickets is $15 for solo-occupied vehicles, $30 for cars (with the whole family), or $35 for tickets purchased on the day of the movie.
Features on the first weekend were: “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on July 23, “Back to the Future” on July 24, and “Jurassic Park” on July 25. Check www.larktheater.net for details on upcoming screenings.