Armature Works’ drive-in theatre is retro in all the right ways

Drive-in theatres are back for the month of October at Armature Works and they don’t disappoint.

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Photo Armature Works Instagram Account

A neon drive-in sign at the back of the plot of land at Armature Works where the makeshift drive-in theatre is located.

Zoe Thaxton, Staff Writer

From Oct. 15 to Nov. 15, Armature Works is hosting a popup drive-in movie theatre as a way to bring the community together and stay safe during the pandemic. For $22 a car (no matter how many people in the car), you get to watch whatever movie they are playing that day. They have two showings of every movie each day, a family-friendly at 7:15 p.m. and a 10 p.m. showing for night owls.

Now, I’d always wanted to go to a drive-in theatre just for the “old-fashioned” experience and was full of excitement when I heard Armature Works was hosting one for the month of October.  I was lucky to go with a group of friends on Saturday, Oct. 17th. The movie featured that night was Hocus Pocus, a Halloween classic and personally one of my favorite Halloween movies.

When we arrived just shy of 7:15 to get a spot, there was already a huge line to get into the lot because it was a one lane entrance that also led straight to the parking lot for the Armature Works building; nothing to worry about, all tickets must be purchased before arrival. As an aside, after we went to the movie, Armature Works pushed back the first showing to 7:15.

We chilled behind the car on a picnic blanket with a large bag of candy and other sweets. Armature Works was offering food, but you needed to preorder it on their app. Due to COVID restrictions, you couldn’t just walk up to the popcorn stand on a whim.

Viewers were supposed to listen to the movie through the radio on a specific station, but we were outside the car and on the ground with no means of hearing the movie. Lucky for us, someone was blasting the movie on their radio, so we could just make out the dialogue of the movie before us.

The night was spent feasting on sweets, talking (which probably annoyed some of the cars near us) and watching the movie. It was amazing!

I believe this drive-in theatre should be a consistent thing in Tampa! It’s a retro way of watching movies that is COVID friendly and is just fun to do with friends. I’d go see any movie at a drive-in again, it doesn’t have to be a new release. There’s just something about a drive-in that’s calming or comforting more so than a regular theatre.

The tough part about this would be the upkeep. The drive-in uses a large inflatable movie screen right behind the busy Armature Works building. It’s a great way for many people to see this screen, but I imagine that it’s an extra expense for Armature Works. Because it’s huge and inflatable, someone has to fill it up with air constantly so it works and make sure it doesn’t get ripped. I understand that it may be a hassle for Armature Works to maintain as this theatre was a collaboration with the company Rooftop Cinema Club. This was just a one time thing, but just the idea of a drive-in theatre located in Tampa makes me happy.

This drive-in theatre isn’t open for much longer at Armature Works, but try to go out to it. Maybe just find the closest drive-in theatre and enjoy your night if you can’t make it out in time. Drive-in theatres bring a sense of nostalgia to movies that transports you back in time. They’re fun and enjoyable with friends, and everyone should enjoy that experience at least once in their lives.

If You Go:

Times: Select nights until Nov. 15 with two showings – 7:15 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Price: $22 per vehicle

Location: AW West Lawn, 1910 N Ola Ave

Website: rooftopcinemaclub.com/armature