WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Since the 1950s, the Elm Road Triple Drive-In Theatre has shown movies under the night sky in the summer, but 2020 was the theater’s most challenging year as basically no new movies came out.
The theater is the largest privately-owned triple drive-in.
For co-owner Mark Hocevar, running the Elm Road Drive-In is more than a normal job.
“The business gets in your blood and it becomes a passion to keep it up. It’s a uniquely American experience. It offers an evening of entertainment, not just a couple of hours,” he said.
This year, the Elm Road Drive-In faced the same challenge that all theaters faced: a summer without new movies.
“Typically in a season, we’ll have 50 new features that we show across our three screens. This year, by the time we close up, there might be five or six,” Hocevar said.
The Elm Road Drive-In was able to show classic movies but also made money in less-traditional ways, all while maintaining social distancing.
“We’ve done dance studio graduations, high school graduations this year and on-screen concerts,” Hocevar said.
Although the Elm Road Drive-In is a Warren institution, Hocevar says that many of his customers come from outside of Trumbull County.
“We cover the entire tri-county area. In this particular environment with COVID, we’ve had customers travel over 100 miles,” he said.
Hocevar said he is looking to finish 2020 strong and is confident that the Elm Road Drive-In will be ready to show more movies next year.
“We’re kind of focused on the present right now. We’ve survived 70 years and I think we can survive another year,” he said.