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Inside Move: Second lap for drive-ins

Outdoor venues get new gas in raceway reuse plan

John Halecky marries movies and motorcars, but he isn’t a producer on “2 Fast 2 Furious” or other feature films.

The exhib vet hopes the fledgling Wall Drive-In Theatre in northern New Jersey reps the first of a chain of drive-in theaters operating on the sites of underutilized motor speedways.

“There are a whole lot of racetracks around the country that only operate one day a week,” says Halecky, a former exec of Jersey-based Clearview Cinemas. “They’re sitting dormant most of the week and owners have a very unproductive asset.”

The Wall Township drive-in is expected to open shortly once a local zoning review is completed, and Halecky’s Tandem Media is in talks for two additional venues.

The venture is surprising in light of the decades-old decline of the drive-in theatrical market. But sharing real estate with speedway owners chops operating costs for both partners so dramatically that the there may be a brighter future for oval-trackers and drive-in exhibs alike, Halecky says.

Meanwhile, the Garden State once again will boast at least one outdoor screen.

“We’re bringing a drive-in back to the state where they started,” Halecky says.

The first drive-in opened in Camden, N.J. in 1933.

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