During the COVID-19 pandemic, my boyfriend and I have watched a lot of movies at home. I honestly can’t remember the last time we went to an actual movie theater and I miss the big screen experience. In the last year, I’ve seen several drive-in movie theaters pop up here and there, but when I saw the prices they were charging, it was too expensive, in my opinion, for not the full movie viewing experience. Randomly, I stumbled upon Rooftop Cinema Club’s Instagram page and surprisingly, their tickets were decently priced, probably the cheapest compared to the other options.
Rooftop Cinema Club was showing one of my all-time favorite movies, Aladdin, at the Santa Monica Airport, so I didn’t hesitate. I purchased “The Movie Buddy” which was $36 for two people in a car. There’s also a booking fee of $3.60. After checkout, you get a QR code e-mailed to you which acts as your ticket.
Another positive with Rooftop Cinema Club is that you can bring your own food and drinks. These items are usually the priciest things at an actual theater (this is how they make their money), so it was great to not have to spend on that. Before heading to the airport, we packed some popcorn and Truly’s. We also got a pepperoni pizza from Great White, a restaurant in Venice. If you didn’t bring any snack and need something to munch on, there is cinema snacks such as popcorn, candy, and drinks for sale at the venue.
Rooftop Cinema Club took one of the parking lots at the Santa Monica Airport and transformed it into a small drive-in theater. We arrived one hour before showtime and there was already a line of cars waiting to get in. At the entrance, a team member scans your ticket and directs you to the parking usher who then asks if you are going to park your car forward or backwards. We wanted to park our car backwards in order to watch the movie from the trunk (best for laying down and lounging). The parking process was smooth as Rooftop Cinema Club did a wonderful job organizing all these cars.
Even though we got there early, we eventually got parked in the fifth row from the screen which wasn’t bad. The cars were parked in a way so that you’re direct view of the movie wasn’t blocked. But if you want a good spot that’s not too far, I would highly recommend getting to the venue about an hour to an hour and half before. The clarity of the screen was 7/10 from our spot.
We popped the trunk and I decorated it with fairy lights I got off Amazon for $7, just to add to the ambiance of the night out. I received a couple compliments from people who really liked our setup. It’s amazing how something simple and cheap can enhance the experience. I pulled down my back row seats of my Toyota 4Runner to give us plenty of space to spread out. It’s interesting to see that most other guests either had SUVs or minivans.
The movie was projected on a 52-foot screen. It wasn’t the clearest HD quality image, but that’s expected for a drive-in movie. We could easily make out Aladdin and Jasmine on the screen, but not sure about the rows all the way in the back. The audio was broadcasted through FM radio, so you just had to tune into a specific station. The sound quality was actually impressive and pretty clear. We were able to enjoy and sing along to all the great Aladdin songs. For cars that had to leave their headlights, the staff covered it up with tape so that it’s not bothersome to the surrounding cars.
I had to use the restrooms a couple times during the movie. I was dreading it because I hate porta-potties, but to my surprise, the restrooms were actually very clean. They also had hand washing stations. I saw staff members constantly cleaning the areas, so they were on top of keeping a top notch guest experience.
Overall, this was our first drive-in movie experience and it was memorable and fun! I would highly recommend for couples as a creative date night and for families as a fun COVID safe activity. This is definitely an experience they will never forget!
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ROOFTOP CINEMA CLUB (SANTA MONICA AIRPORT)
Address: 3233 Donald Douglas Loop S, Santa Monica Interim Open Space, Santa Monica, CA 90405
*Unfortunately at the moment, Rooftop Cinema Club is not doing any drive-in showings. There are several other drive-in movie companies to check out. I purchased tickets through Street Food Cinema for another drive-in movie which will also be held at the Santa Monica airport*
- Show up AT LEAST an hour before the movie starts as spots are first come first serve.
- Bring plenty of snacks, food, and drinks!
- If you really want to enhance your experience at the drive-in, decorate it with something fun like fairy lights. I purchased mine off Amazon for $7