As George Wood, founder of The Luna Cinema, says, Goodwood was always the venue he wanted to add to his list.
And he and the team have done precisely that with a busy programme of films at Goodwood Motor Circuit from April 17.
George has been delivering open-air picnic cinema for a dozen years. Last year, he was brilliantly placed to make the switch to drive-in cinema, one of the country’s big discoveries of the pandemic.
“I always say it took us 12 years to perfect open-air cinema. And then we had 12 days to perfect drive-in cinema!
“Thinking back to when the lockdown started, we all just had no way of fathoming how long it was going to last. We were all just thinking that it was going to go away in a few weeks. So we just thought ‘Let’s all work from home and see what happens.’ We didn’t for one second anticipate what a huge thing this was going to be.”
It was certainly worrying: “We had spent 12 years building up open-air cinema and we were just about to put on sale our biggest season and then it was like everything was going to just fall away. We were just thinking what could we possibly do.
“But a few weeks in we were looking at what was happening in Germany and America and you could see that drive-in cinema was making a comeback. And you could see why. You sit in your car and you feel safe.
“But drive-in cinema was something we had never done. We were always the open-air picnic-style because it was the more sociable thing. Every time I thought about drive-in cinema, I just thought ‘No, that’s not what we do.’ But then in 2020, suddenly drive-in cinema was the perfect solution. What was negative before 2020 was suddenly positive in 2020 when people didn’t want to be sociable and close with everyone else.
“It suddenly became its key strength. It just suddenly felt that this was the right form of cinema for these strange times… and so I thought ‘Right, let’s explore drive-in cinema!’
“And I thought about what we needed to make it work. And it seemed to me that the main challenge for drive-in cinema was getting the sound right.
“We could do the sound on an FM frequency, but that seemed very problematic. Modern cars turn themselves off to save the battery so that presented serious difficulties. And then what if you just can’t tune it to the right frequency anyway?”
As George says, you just can’t have the staff leaning in and doing it for the drive-in cinema-goers.
And so the team came up with the perfect solution: a digital wireless speaker which you put on your dashboard and which you hand back at the end. It is then sanitised fully before being handed out to the next user.
“As soon as we had that, we thought ‘Right, that’s how you do drive-in movies in the 21st century! That’s how we make a product we are proud of!’ We did a test. We went to a field in Kent and we tried it out and the sound was just incredible.
“We did a full drive-in season last year and it was great. It was what people wanted and we were able to perfect the model.
“We were working with a lot of our existing venues, and the learnings from last year was that it was a really great experience that people really wanted.”
To see the full programme, book tickets and for more information, visit www.lunadriveincinema.com
Ticket price for the drive-in offer is £32.50 per car for in off-peak early matinee screenings, and £37.50 per car in peak evening screenings.
The season of films will include Pretty Woman, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, Knives Out, Jo Jo Rabbit and Rocket Man amongst others.