Last August, the Star Cinema Grill in Richmond, Texas, a Houston suburb, was having great success in its premium large format auditorium thanks to having installed the largest Samsung Onyx LED Cinema Screen in North America. It was just the second exhibitor in the country with an Onyx and audiences loved the experience; the theatre was sold out for almost every show. Cut to this August and times have changed dramatically. The United States in general and Texas in particular are still dealing with the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the handful of indoor theatres that are open are working under severe restrictions. In response to that, Star Cinema Grill is in the process of opening a drive-in theatre at its Cypress, Texas location. I spoke with Jason Ostrow, vice president of development at Star Cinema Grill, to learn about the new venture.
Digital Cinema Report: When did you decide to build a drive-in?
Jason Ostrow: We have been talking about it for months, but we stayed very busy with our restaurants and trying to re-open the theaters as soon as we could. It just kept getting put on the back burner. We had also furloughed a lot of our team that we needed to successfully execute this.
DCR: Where is the drive-in located?
JO: We are going to start with our Cypress location and work out the kinks and assess profitability and then go from there. We’re using our parking lot at that theatre.
DCR: Are you building more than one?
JO: Starting with one, and then going from there.
DCR: Who is handling construction?
JO: We designed and built the structures ourselves with our team.
DCR: How big is the screen?
JO: Each of the two screens at Cypress is 25 feet wide by 15 feet tall.
DCR: What projector or projectors will you be using?
JO: We are starting with the NEC 5200 center lumen, WUXGA, LCD, laser, entry installation projector model NP-P525U. But when Tenet is released we’ll be using the NEC NP-NC1201, so we can show first run content.
DCR: What sound system or systems are you using?
JO: We are using an FM transmitter so people can tune in from their radios.
DCR: How many cars can you accommodate?
JO: We are starting with 47, but can flex to 70 if volume dictates.
DCR: Will food and drink be available?
JO: Yes. We will deliver our full menu of food, concessions and liquor, beer and wine. Guests order through our app, and we will deliver to vehicles.
DCR: What is your pricing structure?
JO: Starting with $18 per car.
DCR: When will you open?
JO: Hopefully in the next week.
DCR: What movies will you be showing?
JO: Starting with library titles and then will mix in first run content.
DCR: Will this be a permanent installation?
JO: Only time will tell...