How to Start a Drive-in Movie Theater

If you love movies, you can start your own drive-in movie theater. This is your chance to offer drive-in traffic some great movies. Your primary target would be couples going out on a date.

Prepare the location and purchase the needed equipment. Secure the necessary licenses and permits to operate a legit business.

Back in the fifties to sixties, drive-in theaters were really popular. People can watch movies on a large screen but the difference is that you’re going to watch outside, while sitting on your car. The screens are put up on a semi-private area and since many couples are still willing to pay, this can be a lucrative business. You will need working capital and of course, a solid plan. Finding a location should be your primary objective because without it, you will find it hard to attract customers.

Starting a Drive-in Movie Theater

The drive-in movie theater should be located in an area where there is lots of driving traffic. A large land space is needed for the screen, stand, and parking space. Make sure that you check with the concerned government office about the zoning and licensing requirements. Building the facility is very important and you will need special permits. How many screens do you plan to install? You will also need some ramps where the cars can park and office where you will put the radio, projectors, and other equipment. To ensure that you can charge the watchers, you will need to have a tall wall around the area and entry/exit gates. Upon entry, you can issue the tickets. It is important that you are able to restrict the coming in and going of vehicles.

Negotiate the films that you want to feature on your large screen. If you plan to target new films, you may be required to pay a high price. Most of the drive-in theaters feature old yet popular films. You have to establish a budget for the films and be sure to have regular showing to attract continuous traffic. There are certain permits and licenses that you have to obtain to operate the business legally. All these things should be addressed prior to opening.

You have to provide great food choices, as well as drinks. You can offer a packaged deal or you can develop meal plans that are affordable. You should have your own radio station where you can broadcast the sound of the films and will allow you to advertise. Proceed with the advertising methods that you can use like billboards, fliers, and business cards. You can test the drive-in movie theater before opening to correct potential mistakes. When everything is set and you have accounting software running, you can now schedule for the opening of the movie theater. If you can provide quality services, your business is a sure hit.


  • mihir madeka said on March 27, 2012
    hi...i am mihir from rajkot gujarat india has query for opening movie theater/open drive in movie theater. and projectors generally used in movie theaters and open air theater .investment in setup movie theater equipments -projectors sound system maximum land area required for it and contacts to local film distributors to show movies.etc.
  • swaroopajay said on March 31, 2012
    Hey man, please can u give me some more knowledge in drive in theaters., in India .
  • Pieter said on January 5, 2013
    Drive in theater. South Africa, North West, Rustenburg. I have 2 Hecter to start.
  • MAMETJA SOLOMON MOROTOBA said on March 18, 2013
    Hi i would like to set up a drive in movie theatre in Limpopo, in the city of Polokwane. Tell me the possibilities and chances and opportunities. I am very much interested and can find funding. My challenge would be to have my own radio station. Can't i use the local radio station for advertisement and promotions? Please help
  • Henok said on June 9, 2013
    Dear Sir; pls send me the detail equipments and their corresponding prices. tnks
  • Alma said on June 28, 2013
    how to open a drive-in movie theater in Mcallen, Texas Hidalgo County
  • raja said on August 22, 2013
    SIR, Me and my friend is intrusted in starting drive-in theater in GOA (INDIA). we think we have potential to start this business. we need more information and help regarding setting up this . Please help.
  • Pravin Bharat Kulkarni said on November 16, 2013
    Hello, I wish to start drive-in-theater in Nagpur, Maharashtra. We have ample land to open the theater. Can you guide me on the equipment requirement and cost involved and permissions required for starting the cinema. in it. Awaiting your response. regards Pravin Kulkarni
  • aman bansal said on January 23, 2014
    Dear Sir, I am very interested to open a drive in theater in india and i wish to know the details and the equipments required to open a drive in theater
  • selepe said on May 29, 2014
    hi, could you please forward me a sum-up plan bout the equipment setup.
  • samir mishra beginner adviser said on September 3, 2014

    @aman bansal, Entertainment in India is reccession free. A movie hall franchise business is more affordable and has high returns.!!!

    • Global Nanoplex
    • Global Miniplex
    • Global Multiplex
    • Royal Home Theatre
    • Royal lounge

    Movie hall franchise business starts with a minimum investment of 25lacs!!! || Consultant

  • piyush Saharma said on January 11, 2015
    hi I am piyush sharma from indore MP INDIA. i want to start Drive-in Movie Theater". so pls tell or How to i start. pls Tell me ASAP. Thanx Piyush Sharma
  • Arleen said on April 10, 2015
    I'm interested in opening one in Michigan
  • Rahul Deo said on April 16, 2015
    Hello Sir, I want to open one drive in theater on Indore Dewas Highway. Please tell me the estimated cost and necessary equipments required to open the theater and also how much square feet land may be required for the theater.
  • karthik said on May 18, 2015
    SIR, Me and my friend is interested in starting drive-in theater in Coimbatore (INDIA). we think we have potential to start this business. we need more information and help regarding setting up this . Please help.
  • KC said on May 31, 2015
    i want to start one in Vero Beach FL can i have some help in starting it how about some international investors? Please help
  • KC said on September 22, 2015
    KC reach out to me... I was also looking in Vero Beach FL that's pretty interesting. My email is -rj
  • laxman Singh said on March 28, 2016
    Pali marwad Rajasthan India. I am untreated open theater opening. 15 hecter land in best lockection. Old help me my phone number 09928057571thenks.
  • Adam S. said on April 13, 2016
    I would like to reopen a current drive in theater in midtown,tn. What all would i need to get started as far as food movie and business licenses?
  • Pawan Singh said on May 10, 2016
    How much amount required to start this business in india with all facility.Just tell me the rough figure in India Rupees.
  • Ishita said on December 25, 2016
    What are the permits required for a Drive In theater in India?
  • Rajan singh said on January 7, 2017
    How to start drive in cinema what things I required exp. total budget on lower side plz revert me back
  • lokesh jain said on January 11, 2017
    Hello sir I am interested. on my city open theater and shopping center small 4d start please support all time
  • Abhishek parmar said on January 18, 2017
    Hey i'm really interested in such a deal as in india there are very few such theaters i believe its a great deal. Could you please tell me in detail type of equipment where i can get , licenses that we have to get , and movies how we can get them , and cost related to such venture . What would be proper about we have to generate and what kind of marketing is required . Please help me with everything thats required .
  • Barb Robinson said on February 17, 2017
    I am very interested in opening a drive in theater in southern Illinois! I really feel it would be a great investment for our area! Please send me as much information about the startup of this to my email address! Thank you Jim and Barb Robinson
  • Teboho Molobi said on March 3, 2017
    Hey, I'm interested in opening up my own Drive in theater in Soweto. I'm worried about cost of equipment and permits for operation and screenings. Any information on start up in South Africa and where to start looking would be grateful.
  • Himanshu said on March 25, 2017
    Hey....what are license or permit required to screen non commercial movies in drive in theater in India?
  • Gitesh said on February 24, 2018
    Hi I am Gitesh from agra interested to open drive in movie theater plz provide me knowledge.
  • M.Krishna Reddy said on July 29, 2020
    We ELDERS CLUBS INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION want to start DRIVE-IN THEATERS in HYDERABAD AND OTHER CITIES IN INDIA. We need pricing of 250 Cars to 500 Cars capacity Drive in Theaters Projector and equipment. We want to purchase 10 Drive-in theaters at a time.
    With Regards
    M.Krishna Reddy
    Managing Trustee
    Elders Clubs International Foundation
    Mobile: 9848040199


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