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Drive-in movie theaters open this week in Pilsen and Bridgeview, with more on the way

ChiTown Movies in Pilsen is the first within the Chicago city limits.

Patrons enjoy “Star Wars: A New Hope” at the new ChiTown Movies drive-in theater in Pilsen on Wednesday night.
Patrons enjoy “Star Wars: A New Hope” at the new ChiTown Movies drive-in theater in Pilsen on Wednesday night.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Movie fans who want to return to watching their favorite films on the really really big screen that’s not located in their home will have several drive-in options in and around Chicago this summer.

While indoor moviegoing remains verboten under Illinois’ social distancing rules, drive-in theaters are permitted, and new ones are popping up in Pilsen and Bridgeview, with others on the way.

The ChiTown Movies drive-in, located in the parking lot adjacent to the massive ChiTown Futbol facility at 2343 S. Throop St. in Pilsen, opened for business Tuesday and will continue offering screenings of “Star Wars: A New Hope” at 8:50 p.m. and 11:50 p.m. through June 15.

The price is $33 per car for up to 5 adults; $5 additional charge for each extra adult. For social distancing purposes, cars will receive assigned spots that are seven feet away from the next vehicle. Only 107 car spots will be available per screening. All attendees must wear masks when exiting a car to use indoor restroom facilities (the only time anyone will be permitted to leave a vehicle during a screening).

An usher guides patrons to their parking spot at ChiTown Futbol’s first night of drive-in movies on Tuesday. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
An usher guides patrons to their parking spot at ChiTown Futbol’s first night of drive-in movies on Tuesday. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Movies will be shown on a 60-by-40-foot screen; audio is played through cars’ FM radios.

According to a ChiTown Movies spokeswoman, concessions will be available for purchase by phone or online from the facility’s onsite restaurant The ChiTown Grille. “[They] give their parking spot number and the food will be directly delivered to their car.” ChiTown Futbol, a 60,000-square-foot indoor soccer/fitness/fun/food facility, received approval for the drive-in use from 25th Ward Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez.

Tickets are available at www.ChiTownMovies.com.

Across town in Bridgeview, Chicago Drive-In Theaters will open June 11 with a screening of “Goonies” at SeatGeek Stadium, the home field of the Chicago Red Stars soccer team at 7000 S. Harlem Ave. Gates will open at 7 p.m. each day and family-friendly movies will screen at 8:30 p.m., with R-rated midnight movies Fridays and Saturdays. The movies will be projected on a 70-foot screen, with audio played through each vehicle’s FM radio.

Tickets, $30-$50 per car, are available at www.chicagodrivein.com. Concessions will be available from a central stand as well as mobile golf cart units, offering sodas, popcorn and candy. Masks are required if you exit a vehicle to use restrooms or purchase food/drinks.

Manny Rodriguez, head of security at ChiTown Futbol, hands food to a moviegoer at ChiTown Movies on Tuesday, the facility’s first night of drive-in movies in its parking lot.
Manny Rodriguez, head of security at ChiTown Futbol, hands food to a moviegoer at ChiTown Movies on Tuesday, the facility’s first night of drive-in movies in its parking lot.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

An announcement is expected soon on another drive-in site teased by Bucket Listers, a team of local event curators. The location has not been revealed, but it is said to be close to downtown Chicago with room for 300 socially distanced cars.

The venerable Music Box Theatre in Lake View is scouting locations for a drive-in it would run in partnership with Elevated Films Chicago.

And the Chicago Park District and Chicago Film Office announced Tuesday that they will present six drive-in movie nights this summer in various city sites that will be revealed later. Those will take the place of the popular Millennium Park Summer Film Series, which traditionally has drawn crowds too big to allow for proper distancing.

Meanwhile, at least two old-school drive-in theaters have been operating for several weeks in northeast Illinois: the McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry and the Route 34 Drive-in in Earlville.