Plans for first drive-in cinema get go ahead

THE big screens for the country’s first permanent drive-in cinema will be turned on before Christmas.

The new Co Cork venture will rekindle memories of 1950s American waitresses taking orders from courting couples in Buicks, Mustangs and Chevrolets.

Cork County Council has granted planning permission for two massive outdoor screens at the Fota Retail Park, where there will also be 200 parking bays.

But, unlike the US nearly 60 years ago, those coming to see the big screen experience won’t have to keep their engines running to stay warm in the winter months.

“We will be providing our patrons with portable propane heaters so they don’t have to keep their car engine running to stay warm. Also, if it rains we will provide them with canopies so their windscreens won’t get wet and they can see out,” John Caulfield said.

John and his business partner, Stephen Redmond, who is also from Cork, have formed the company Drive-In Cinemas Ireland, which will carry out the development.

“We looked at a couple of venues and decided that Carrigtwohill was the right one because it had good road access. We were delighted to get planning from the county council and hope to start construction on the site by the end of August. We envisage having it up and running before Christmas,” John said.

He said the company carried out market research on the project and it was likely that the outdoor screens would attract people in their late teens and married couples looking for a different night out break from their children.

Initially they will open a 20 x 16 metre main screen, following it up later with a slightly smaller version.

“We will have waitresses taking orders for food from the cars. It will be reminiscent of 1950s America, but they will not be supplying alcoholic drink,” John added.

He said initially the company was looking at screening new release Hollywood blockbusters, but if the demand was there they would also look at the possibility of screening major sporting events.

“We know it is untried and untested in this country, but from the feedback we got from our market research we believe it has huge potential,” John said.

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