High River drive-in theatre opening to the public Saturday

Wes Shaw, left, and Jeff Langford in 2019 with the projector for their drive in.

It’s been nearly a year and a half since a group of High River residents banded together with a common goal: bringing a permanent outdoor drive-in movie experience to southern Albertans.

Now, the screen is set and tickets are on sale.

The High River Sunset Drive-In will open its doors to the public Saturday night following a friends and family invite-only fundraiser Friday night.

“We’ve had a huge learning curve and everything’s worked well. We just want to make sure we do it right,” said Jeff Langford, one of the many people behind the project. “It’s really stressful up to getting it going and then after it’s done, that’s where the rewarding part kicks in.”

Tickets for the Saturday double feature,

Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo

and

The Devil at Your Heels

, are $40 per vehicle and

can only be purchased online

.

Langford said due to the number of pop-up drive-in movie theatres across the world this summer, the group had some difficulties with licensing.

“The movie studios have really cracked down on drive-ins . . . Disney was very good and stepped right in to support us 110 per cent,” he said, adding they’re working with Universal Pictures right now but that it’s an arduous process to ensure everything is completely legal.

 A rendering of the High River Sunset Drive-In from the planing stages.

In addition to Friday and Saturday night showings year round, the site will also be a place for organizations to host fundraisers and outdoor concerts, something Langford and the group wanted from the beginning.

“We’ve got some charities that have booked the site, like the Foothills Country Hospice is having their big event here to raise money and then the hospital foundation here in High River,” he said. “It’s becoming not just a drive-in but almost an events centre for the town, which is even more exciting.”

There will be porta-potties, which Langford said are easier to sanitize and ensure physical distancing measures, as well as food trucks that attendees can call to place their order and will get a call back when their food is ready to be picked up.

There is currently space for 130 vehicles, which allows for the cars to be appropriately spaced. The number can be raised to 160 to 180 vehicles post-COVID.

“We’ve got a great view of the mountains behind the screen, so you get to watch the sunset and then the movie starts,” he said. “We’ve created more of an experience here of what a drive-in used to be.”

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