Drive-In Movie Theaters Supplies and Equipment

By Kristina Seleshanko, writer
Apr 14, 2010
Image Credit: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Find the right products to create a successful outdoor movie business

Outdoor movies and popcorn are enjoying a resurgence in the United States, but drive-in movie theaters supplies and equipment aren't exactly easy to find.

Local drive-in theaters cost a good deal to set up, and you don't want to waste money on equipment that isn't going to last or be suitable for the outdoors. So, just what do you need in the way of drive-in movie theater equipment. And what can you expect it to cost?

Unlike a standard movie theater, you won't have to worry about velveteen seating or ambient lighting. Aside from the cost of airing films, your costs will fall into three broad drive-in movie equipment categories. As you research drive-in theaters information, you'll find you need:

1. A drive-in theater screen

2. A projector suitable for drive-in movies

3. Drive-in movies concessions

Purchase a screen suitable for the outdoor movie business

Naturally, the heart of outdoor movies--movie screens--range in price mostly according to size and durability. On the small end, 9-foot screens average about $2,300 to $4,500, depending upon quality. Thirty-foot screens are $10,500 to $11,000 and 40-foot screens are $15,500 to $17,000 on average.

Find projectors for your drive-in movie business

At the less expensive end, there are all-in-one projection systems ranging from $9,000 to $10,000, appropriate for local drive-in movie theaters. Higher quality projection systems run $10,500 to $12,500.

Remember concessions for local drive-in movies

No movie theater is complete without a popcorn machine. Small commercial machines (holding about 16 oz. at a time) may be purchased for around $120 to $250, and sometimes more, depending on features. Large machines (holding around 48 oz. at a time) generally sell for between $1,000 and $2,000. And 4 oz. bags for your customers to hold their popcorn sell for about $80 to $90 for 500, while popcorn kernels cost about $25 to $35 for 50 lb.

  • You can save a bundle on drive-in movie theater equipment if you don't buy a screen. If you have a large enough surface (like the wall of a building), you can simply paint it white using screen paint (such as "Screen Goo") to create a permanent movie screen for your drive-in theater.
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