Michael B. Jordan and Amazon’s ‘A Night At The Drive-in’ series in Albemarle offers a free family-friendly outdoor movie experience

By Zach Goins

July 2, 2020

Thanks to Michael B. Jordan and Amazon Studios, movie lovers finally have a chance to head to the theaters again. Wednesday marked the first installment of the summer movie series, featuring Love & Basketball and Crazy Rich Asians, and if you missed it, there are still four remaining nights to catch free films on the big screen.

So, if you’re thinking of heading out to Albemarle’s Badin Drive-In Theater for a movie night, here’s everything you need to know: 

Is it safe?

It’s the biggest question for any public outing nowadays. 

After attending the first week, we can confidently say there was never a moment we felt at-risk. Guests are required to stay within their vehicle’s immediate vicinity unless they’re heading to the restroom or the concession stand. On top of that, the attendees who were venturing out to those areas were all donning masks and respecting each others’ space. 

We can’t predict the turnout for every outing, but if the first week is any indicator, the lot wasn’t entirely full. That meant plenty of space to spread cars out for those seeking a little extra peace of mind. 

What’s on the schedule?

The screenings take place every other Wednesday, and each night features two movies that fit a specific theme. These nights range from “Movies to Make You Laugh” to “Movies to Make You Open Your Eyes.” Hand-picked by Jordan, each film featured emphasizes the importance of celebrating multicultural voices in cinema.

“This special collection of films represents the spectrum of human emotions that bring communities together and reminds us of the unique power of storytelling to change the world,” Jordan said in a note to guests. “In these unprecedented times, it is so important that we are here for one another and share with our communities.” 

Remaining schedule:

7/15 – Movies that Make You Proud: Black Panther and Creed

7/29 – Movies to Inspire Your Inner Child: Hook and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

8/12 – Movies to Make You Open Your Eyes: Do The Right Thing and Get Out

8/26 – Movies to Make You Laugh: Coming to America and Girls Trip

When should I show up?

Drive-in movies don’t have some of the luxuries of the modern moviegoing experience– including the ability to dim the lights. That means you can’t crank up the projector until it’s dark outside, and in Carolina, that usually doesn’t happen until around 9 p.m. in the summer. 

However, in order to stake out the best spots in front of one of the drive-in’s two screens, make sure to get there at least 30 minutes early. While all the online passes for the first week sold out in advance, there were still empty spaces in the lot, so if you’re running a little late it may not be the end of the world.

During the series’ first week Love & Basketball got cranked up around 9:20 p.m., followed by Crazy Rich Asians at approximately 11:30 p.m. So, if you’re planning on sticking it out for both movies, make sure you have some coffee, and plan accordingly. If you feel yourself getting tired though, it is easy to slip out between movies. 

Are there concessions?

It’s impossible to go to the movies and not have popcorn, and the drive-in is no exception. Upon arrival each car is given a goodie box filled with Pipcorn, Partake cookies and Pathwater, three of the event’s sponsors. If that’s not enough to sustain you, the concession stand is also open. 

There are the traditional movie favorites like popcorn, candy and soda, but they also offer a State Fair-worthy menu of fried treats, like deep fried mac and cheese bites, pickles and jalapeño poppers.

While the website states no outside food or drinks allowed, the staff isn’t performing full vehicle searches for food. So, if deep fried everything isn’t your speed, it shouldn’t be hard to bring your own healthy alternatives. 

What to bring

In case you’ve never made a trip to the drive-in, there are a few necessities. First off, it’s hot out there in the summer. Make sure to bring plenty of water and maybe even a portable fan or two. 

As far as seating arrangements go, there are a couple of options. You can opt to stay in your car and watch from either the front seat or by popping the trunk. If that’s not your style, plenty of people brought blankets, lawn chairs and even an inflatable couch to help get comfortable in front of their vehicles. 

If you choose to sit outside or relax with the windows down, bug spray is also a must.

How do I sign up?

While the summer screening series may be free, it still requires a ticket to reserve a spot. Reservations are made online at ANightAtTheDriveIn.com for the next upcoming showing, and the tickets are typically posted the day after a screening.

If you’re thinking about checking out Do The Right Thing and Get Out on August 12, be sure to scoop up a pass before they run out. The event begins at 9 p.m. with the first movie starting around 9:20 p.m. Badin Drive-In Theater is located in Albemarle, North Carolina, roughly an hour drive from Charlotte. 

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