Outdoor Cinema

The history of outdoor cinema

Open-Air Cinemas have risen in popularity in recent years, but watching movies al-fresco is a trend that is over a century old. As we prepare for our first ever Open-Air Cinema at Mercedes-Benz of Exeter, we take a look back at the close history between outdoor cinema and the automotive industry.

Cinema technology was born from the invention of cinematography by the Lumiere brothers. The first ever Outdoor Picture Gardens was opened in Australia in 1916. Sun Pictures opened with a silent movie, English Racing Drama ‘Kissing Cup’ with supporting ‘Bachelor Brown’ Comic. The Australian institution remains in operation today and has even won a spot in The Guinness Book of World Records

From here, the drive in cinema was born. Drive-in’s date back to the 1910s, and the first patented drive in cinema opened in New Jersey, USA in 1933. The drive-in was advertised as a place where ““The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” (Source: https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/the-history-of-drive-in-movie-theaters-and-where-they-are-now/) – just like our Open-Air Cinema at Mercedes-Benz of Exeter!

Drive-in Cinema’s grew in popularity, particularly through the 1950s & 60s with the baby boomer generation. At the time, the trend did not translate across the pond and the UK market didn’t embrace drive-in cinemas. AS VHS technology advanced, the industry suffered in the 1970s and 80s with many forced to close. A few remain in the states today, however the rising cost of technology is forcing many to close.

Cinema Screen

However, outdoor cinemas are on the rise again! Today inflatable screens allow movies to be shown across a host of outdoor venues, without needing a car radio for sound. From Jaws at a Lido, to Top Gun in an aircraft hanger, and now, The Greatest Showman at Mercedes-Benz of Exeter! The event will take place at our Exeter dealership, just bring your camping chairs and blankets for a night of movie magic under the stars. All profits will be donated to the incredible work of Guide Dogs South West.

Book your tickets to our Open-Air Cinema.