Thank you Loveland Reporter Herald for covering our announcement:
Next weekend, a drive-in movie theater will open at the Outlets at Loveland.
The pop-up movie theater, which will run three days a week for six weeks, was organized as a way to provide safe entertainment and to boost the Loveland economy.
“I tried to picture what would be a good, safe way for people to reenter this world knowing that tourism wasn’t going to look the same this summer,” said Cindy Mackin, the city’s visitor services manager and the person who came up with the idea. “It’s just so much fun and different.”
Mackin floated the idea at a Loveland Community Marketing Commission meeting and Christine Forster, a member of the commission and a marketing professional, picked it up and ran with the idea.
Forster’s business, My Big Day events, has organized the Loveland Drive-in in partnership with the city, the Thompson Education Foundation and Rhythm EFX.
For six weeks, starting June 5, the pop-up drive-in will offer three showings per day each weekend aimed at attracting families. The two early showings will be family-friendly movies that are rated G or PG, and the latest showing each day will be a PG-13 “date night” type of movie, according to information on the website and from organizers.
The tickets, which will be sold online, are donation-only per carload. The suggested donation is $20 per car. That threshold will cover the costs of operating the theater, including paying the staff. Any profits raised above the costs will go to the Thompson Education Foundation, which supports local schools in a variety of ways.
“We wanted to make it community friendly and benefit one of our favorite nonprofits,” Forster said. “It’s hard to choose, but the Thompson Education Foundation benefits a huge spectrum of kids and families in the community.”
The revenue raised will help the Thompson Education Foundation support students and outstanding education, but the drive-in will help students and their families in another way as well, said Kim Akeley-Charron, executive director of the foundation.
“We’re thrilled to be part of this partnership so we can bring some opportunity to our student families with so many summertime events canceled due to COVID-19,” she said. “This is one opportunity that our students and their families can enjoy.”
With approval from the city of Loveland as well as Larimer County and Colorado Health Department officials and contracts signed, the drive-in is set to open in the parking lot on the north side of the outlet mall on Friday, June 5.
The initial movies have not yet been announced; the website (lovelanddrivein.com) states that movie announcements will be made each Wednesday for the theater’s six-week run.
The chosen movies will be aired on a giant LED screen that will be placed on a trailer. Area business Rhythm EFX offered the “very expensive” technology at a discounted rate, which made the pop-up theater feasible, according to Forster.
“It’s a giant movie screen, not as big as you would see at a traditional drive-in, but it’s all LED panels so you can show a movie in the day,” she explained.
Movies are to be aired at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., while it is light out, and at either 8 or 8:30 p.m.
The north side of The Outlets at Loveland is seen from the east side of Interstate 25 on Thursdat in east Loveland. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)
Planners looked at 40 different locations for the pop-up theater, taking into consideration issues such as bathrooms, shade and trash pickup as well as room for physical distancing. The Outlets at Loveland fit the bill for all of those factors and is just off a main artery, Forster said.
“The outlets have the space, and they need the foot traffic,” she said.
Peggy Ziglin, director of business development and tourism for Craig Realty Group, which owns the outlet mall, said the venture will draw people to and benefit the mall. But for her, the biggest draw was how it would give something back to the Loveland community.
“This is a huge opportunity for us to get together as a community with what’s going on,” Ziglin said. “At first, I didn’t think about what it is going to do for (the mall). What it is going to do for the community is what is on my mind.”
People have been hit by heartache and hardship with the pandemic, and this will provide a boost to them and to the entire community, Ziglin said, adding, “It’s an opportunity to have a few minutes of happiness and fun.”
While the pop-up theater is not a money-making venture for My Big Day and will instead raise money for the nonprofit Thompson Education Foundation, it also will pump money into the Loveland economy. Forster said estimates are that the venture will result in $20,000 worth of local jobs, $30,000 invested in local small businesses and another $20,000 spent at local restaurants.
Loveland residents seem to embrace the idea. On a Facebook page dedicated to the Loveland Drive-in, a post asked for feedback and whether people would attend. Nearly all of the more than 70 comments were positive, including: “We need outdoor events, and we have great weather” and “I love the idea of an outdoor theater.”
Forster is still working out the final details before next week’s launch. Updated information, including a listing of movies and how to buy tickets, will be posted at lovelanddrivein.com.
Mackin, for one, is excited to see the movies roll.
“I’m glad it’s found a home in Loveland,” she said. “We’re going to give people a return to normalcy.”
Let's enjoy the outdoors together safely!