By Carolyne Zinko
The background of a drive-in theater isn’t supposed to distract moviegoers from the film playing on the screen. But that has been the case at the Fort Mason Flix drive-in theater, which offers viewers stunning views of the Bay.
Only in San Francisco.
Due to popular demand, the pop-up drive-in theater at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture has been extended through mid-November, and will continue to screen two classic films a night, six days a week (Tuesdays-Sundays).
“It’s a wonderful experience to see movies on the big screen, with the incredible backdrop of the San Francisco Bay,” said Lehia Franklin Acox, Fort Mason’s marketing and development manager. “It’s a positive place right now where people can gather.”
The pop-up sprang to life in mid-September to provide support to Fort Mason’s nonprofit and arts organizations following the shutdowns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been devastating for us as an arts and cultural events center in the middle of a global pandemic,” Acox said. “We threw around ideas on how we can still present the arts and still bring in revenue. We came up with the idea of a drive-in. One of the things we have is a big parking lot, and there’s never been a drive-in the waterfront.”
The concession stands have been manned by such Fort Mason residents as Greens restaurant and Off the Grid, with a different food truck providing service every night.
Additionally, Fort Mason has been partnering with nonprofits to present special events. Recently, community meeting and learning place Manny’s hosted a viewing of the second presidential debate at the drive-in, and the San Francisco Opera showed a classic performance of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” from 2008.
“We wanted other nonprofits to be able to use the space and engage their audience,” Acox said.
The pop-up has been well-received. It was originally planned for one month, but a second month has already been added, and Fort Mason officials are in negotiations to extend it further.
Two films are shown every night except Mondays, with family-friendly films (“Frozen II,” “Finding Nemo,” “Ghostsbusters”) offered at 6 p.m., and more adult fare (“Frida,” “Bridesmaids,” the original “Shaft”) at 9 p.m.
Each showing can accommodate about 100 vehicles. Tickets are $49 per car per showing. For more information, including the schedule of upcoming movies, visit FortMason.org. Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd.
Photo credit: Charlie Villyard/Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture