After a crippling intermission, callbacks are starting for the entertainment industry, as one local company is bringing a new attraction to Frederick.
Showtime Sound LLC is kicking off a new pop-up drive-in theater series at the Frederick Fairgrounds set to last for the next six weeks, with follow-up events in the works, said Shawn Hocherl, vice president of Showtime Sound.
“This is a big event. It takes a lot to pull something like this off. I don’t think a lot of people see the back side of the entertainment industry and the time and money that goes into putting something like this on,” Hocherl said. “But these are some of the hardest working people in any industry. ... And we want to work. This is a good community thing, and we’re just happy to have anything to do.”
Showings will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Enjoy two movies for the price of one ticket. Gates open at 5 p.m., and movies begin at 7 p.m. Food trucks will be on site starting at 5 p.m. for evening showings.
The event will also feature additional matinees on Saturdays and Sundays with family-friendly movies. Matinee gates open at 1 p.m. and matinee movies begin at 2 p.m.
Tickets cost between $20 and $35 per car, depending on the showtime.
Hocherl began thinking of the idea for a pop-up drive-in theater after the entertainment industry essentially came to a halt in March when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Then the Great Frederick Fair was canceled as well, and Karen Crum Nicklas, general manager of the fair, called Hocherl to talk about ways they could work together to help each other out.
They settled on using the fairgrounds, and Showtime Sound’s experience in event production to do a safe drive-in theater production. They drew up design plans in a computer-aided design platform and got approval from the health department to ensure the event is held in a safe manner.
Showtime Sound also generated sponsors for the event, including Troyce Gatewood and Partners, which is donating $1 for every ticket sold to the Unity Campaign, which is a large United Way of Frederick County fundraising project to get funding to nonprofits in the community.
“It’s not just us that’s hurting,” Hocherl said. “Everybody involved in the community is hurting. In a monetary way, in a mental way.”
After the six-week series finishes, Hocherl is hoping to expand the series to have a live concert element that the company will announce more details on in the coming weeks or months.
The pop-up drive-in theater events won’t come close to making up the lost revenue Showtime Sound and other entertainment companies have experienced since March. In the second week of March alone, the company had half a dozen tours come to a screeching halt due to the pandemic. And few, if any, events have happened since.
“This isn’t a money maker event for us,” Hocherl said. “This is a keep people afloat, do something good, and do it safely thing that we’ve put together.”
And while it’s a step in the right direction, a long battle remains for the entertainment industry in the fight against COVID-19.
“If we can’t put 5,000 or 10,000 people in an arena, it’s going to cripple the industry,” Hocherl said. “The drive-in doesn’t make it up. No one will be able to last if we don’t come up with a solution to adapt government-wide.”