August 11, 2020

Need film fix in middle of pandemic? No problem. Group to turn vacant parking lot into drive-in

Dinner and a movie in the age of COVID-19 will look like something out of the 1950s when two local entrepreneurs open a drive-in theater overlooking the Mississippi River this July.

Looking for an opportunity to provide a fun activity for local families and help fund future projects, Tate Hobdy and Thor Juell created Movies on the Mississippi.

For four weekends in July, Hobdy and Juell hope to transform the old Isle of Capri casino parking lot on Silver Street into a drive-in movie theater experience.

Hobdy said he and Juell wanted to create an event that families could enjoy while still observing social-distancing guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A drive-in movie theater seemed like the perfect option, Hobdy said. The idea became reality when the Biglane family agreed to the use of the parking lot.

The summer drive-in will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for four weekends starting July 10. Each night will have two showings. The first movie will be a kid-friendly feature, Hobdy said. The second showing each night will feature movies that will appeal to an older audience.

Tickets are $25 per car and must be purchased in advance at the Movies on the Mississippi Facebook page.

No tickets will be sold onsite and space is limited, Hobdy said.

Hobdy said each showing will be able to accommodate between 60-100 cars, depending on the layout of the parking lot, which hasn’t been finalized.

You must bring a copy of the ticket with the QR code or access to the email with the ticket on your phone to be allowed in the gate.

The gate will open 30 minutes before the showtime.

Tate said he hopes to work with local restaurants to provide curbside and to-go meals for families to pick up and bring to the theater and enjoy during the movie.

The first showing at 8 p.m. on July 10 will be the animated feature “Onward.”

The second showing at 10 p.m. will be the movie “Get On Up” which was filmed in Natchez and directed by Tate Taylor.

Other movies that are scheduled to be shown include animated features “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Trolls World Tour” and feature films “Hidden Figures” and “The Sandlot.”

Hobdy said proceeds from the drive-in will go to future projects and downtown development.

“We want to put the money back to work downtown,” Hobdy said.

The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce is helping with the event, Hobdy said.

While the money will not go directly to the chamber, Hobdy said, the group will help direct the funds.

“Their mission seems to be in line with what we want to use the funds for at the end,” Hobdy said. “The Chamber is putting this on in coordination with Visit Natchez and Film Natchez.”