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Report: Florida drive-in is the only U.S. theater showing new movies

Only 14 movie theaters were open in the U.S. last week and 13 were drive-in theaters

Ocala Drive-in theater. (Google Maps)
Ocala Drive-in theater. (Google Maps) (Google)

OCALA, Fla. – There’s no natural disaster or worldwide pandemic that can convince John Watzke to close his drive-in theater in Ocala.

Even as movie theaters across the country shut down to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Watzke and his small Ocala Drive-In theater continue to show new films and classics to moviegoers desperate for a night out.

“Anybody that knows me and knows the drive-in knows I don’t close,” Watzke, 63, told Vice. “I’ve had hurricanes come, I’ve stayed open until the power went off and I had no one in the parking lot."

Only 14 movie theaters were open in the U.S. last week, according to Deadline, and 13 were drive-in theaters. According to research done by writer Ernie Smith, the Ocala drive-in made up the entire revenue of the top-grossing film of last weekend, Swallow, which brought in $1,710.

Watzke said he stays open because he wants to help his employees and those who just want to get out of the house. The drive-in is operating at 40% capacity and each car has 10 to 16 feet between one other, he said.

“I’ve actually had people tell me it’s as safe as being in a hospital,” Watzke said. “I’m taking every precaution possible.”

This weekend, the theater is showing ‘Trolls World Tour’, ‘E.T.’ and ‘Resistance.' Tickets are $6 for adults.

Watzke said he plans to stay open for as long as possible.

“The old cliché ‘the show must go on’ is not a cliché in my family: It’s a way of life,” he told Vice.


About the Author:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.