North Bay's film industry is receiving a $5.5 million investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. (ElisaRiva, pixabay.com)
A throwback of sorts is coming to North Bay at the end of July.
A pop-up drive-in company called Horizon Drive-In is making the rounds in northern Ontario throughout the summer and will be making at least one stop in North Bay at the Northgate Shopping Centre.
“We’re hitting spots in North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Manitoulin Island, and we’re looking at locations in Sault Ste Marie, as well as Massey right now,” said Ben MacKenzie, one of the operators of Horizon Drive-In. “The company that manages the mall has been super amazing to work with us, and they actually manage the mall in Sudbury as well so that’s how we got our foot in the door.”
“We’ve had to work with the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) to get clearance because there is a major highway that passes through beside Northgate, but that’s all going well,” MacKenzie added. “Basically we are going to be taking off a section of the parking lot, setting up our inflatable screen and our parking team will be on-site to facilitate the parking of the vehicles so that they abide by the provincial social distancing guidelines set out by the province for drive-ins.”
The first film that will be shown in the mall’s parking lot will be the John Travolta classic, Grease.
“It’s our classic show opener, we’re playing that in every single city as our first movie to kick off the summer season,” MacKenzie said. “We find that Grease is that classic, old-school movie, everyone loves it, and it has great musical numbers, storylines and acting. It’s a classic, especially at drive-ins.”
“What we’re trying to recreate is the experience of drive-ins, not that you’re going to watch a movie in your car, but you’re going to experience it,” he explained. “From the start, pulling in, getting parked, tuning into our FM channel in each city and listening through the airwaves. We have partnered with Coca-Cola to bring in all glass soda products so you have that old-school experience of sitting there with the sun going down. We wanted to focus on that classic experience for those that haven’t been able to experience it or others who haven’t been to a drive-in in a while.
There will also be snacks such as popcorn, cotton candy, and nachos with cheese. Tickets will be $15 per person and $10 for kids aged 12 and under.
“We’re working on double feature rates,” MacKenzie said. “North Bay is going to be one of the cities that we offer a double feature in, so we will have a 9:00 p.m. movie and an 11:00 p.m. movie, and then we will be moving those times forward in August.”
“All our ticket sales are online on our website, so we can offer a contactless service for those who are still uneasy about going out in the public,” he continued. “Everything can be purchased online ahead of time, tickets, and then when you show up on sight, our staff will scan your ticket and your concession order and everything will be contactless.”
However, there will be a limit on patrons because of COVID-19 protocols.
“The province set out specific guidelines for drive-ins that we have to abide by,” MacKenzie said. “What that entails is they put out a formula for drive-ins to calculate their ability for cars. Depending on the size of the lots in each city, we calculate that based on how many spots we have and what the protocols are.
“There will be a limit, but we’re hoping to do more shows to kind of balance that out and make sure that everyone who wants to experience a drive-in has the opportunity to do so,” he added.