Drive In Movies
By Mark Crantz
We drove by South Coast Cinemas the other day. The marquee announced “Stay Positive” was playing. “It must be good,” I said to my wife. “It’s been there forever. Should we see it?” My wife, who is by nature a positive person, turned slowly in my direction and said, “Saw it. Tried it. Didn’t work for me. But don’t let me stop you. Get out. See it for yourself.”
She dropped me off. That’s when I learned that it wasn’t a new movie. In fact, the theater has been closed since 2015. I wondered if my wife knew when she dropped me off. But when I got out of the car, she gave me that 1,000 watt smile I haven’t seen in years. I called her phone for a ride back. There was a new voicemail message. “Stay positive. Uber and out.”
While I waited for my ride, I looked to the Indy for positive reinforcement. I learned an electric car company called Rivian was looking to renovate the historic theater into a new public serving venue. Wow, I thought. I said to five people also waiting for the movie, “Hey, aren’t you guys the City Council?” No one answered. Maybe they were embarrassed because it wasn’t a real movie. I said, “Don’t go all quiet on me. Stay positive. The place is getting a new run. The Planning Commission is all over it. The rumor is the opening movie will be “Five Million Shades of Grey,” directed by Design Review. “Sounds steamy, don’t you think?” The City Council retreated another six feet. They were leading by example.
Rivian is planning a theater to accommodate screenings, live performances and lectures. Retail, food and beverage operations of Laguna based businesses would be inclusive. A current apartment will be renovated into an artist in residence. Sounds promising. I was thinking my wife wasn’t coming back and I would need a new place to write these columns. I turned to the City Council to ask about a new place to write from. To my surprise they were 36 feet from me now. I raised my voice to be heard over the traffic. “Hey, can I rent the apartment? I’m an artist.”
Rivian will highlight their business with a marketing component about the car brand, by showcasing two electric cars in the lobby. This design element was met with general support because Forest Avenue was now a promenade and parking was eliminated. Consequently, the Planning Commission asked how many cars the new Drive In will accommodate. Rivian promised to get back with an answer right after they recharged their presentation batteries.
Crantz tells the Indy that he’s still waiting for a ride home and he misses the trolleys.