Dine-In Cinema Gets Immersive: Indoor Drive-In to Open in Nashville

indoor drive in nashville
Courtesy of Project 13 and AMDI

As cinema chains explore new ways to expand and eventize the moviegoing experience, a new venture will look to the past, creating a massive indoor replica of a 1960s American drive-in theater that will open in Nashville next year.

Called the August Moon Drive-In, the attraction takes a page from upscale dine-in exhibitors like Alamo Drafthouse as well as from immersive theater events like “Sleep No More.” The $10 million project aims to conjure a summer night in the sixties under a 40,000-square-foot, air-supported dome, complete with simulated starry sky, seating in modified classic cars and food service (with a full bar) focused on artisanal takes on comfort-food standards like burgers and milkshakes.


The Walking Dead Eperience

‘The Walking Dead Experience’: Behind Its Secret Avant-Garde Theater Credentials

August Moon is created and designed by Michael Counts, who got his start as the director of sprawling, immersive theater events in Brooklyn before he moved on to live, interactive projects that have included New York escape room “Paradiso: Chapter 1” and “The Walking Dead Experience.” “Essentially we’re building a soundstage,” he said of what’s envisioned as an intricately detailed recreation of an outdoor space with grass, trees, hammocks, fireflies, sunsets and the scent of meadow air. “We’re building a set as if you’re going to shoot an outdoor scene in a movie, on an indoor stage.”

Nashville was chosen for the launch in part because it seemed a good fit for the attraction’s classic-Americana vibe. One of Counts’ partners on the project, Vector Management’s Ken Levitan, has deep ties to the city as the co-owner of several restaurants in the area and the co-founder of the Nashville Wine and Food Festival.

August Moon’s screen, touted as the largest non-IMAX movie screen in North America, will show a combination of first-run films and classics in a programming model that resembles the Alamo Drafthouse’s. Tricked out with interactive billboard technology, the screen will allow live performers to engage audience members during previews and post-credits sequences.

The entire experience of seeing a movie — including exploration of the space plus food and drink service — is estimated to take about three hours for a 90-minute film, with around 350 guests accommodated at each of the projected 18 screenings per week.

According to Counts, the price of entry is expected to range between $8 to $20, depending on the location of the seating, with food and drink to be charged on top of that. The theater will also offer memberships that allow for free entry along with access to concession specials, seating upgrades and other perks. In some instances, members and others will be able to vote on programming choices.

August Moon is currently scheduled to open in Nashville during the second quarter of 2018 at the intersection of James Robertson Parkway and Interstate 24, near the city’s Nissan Stadium. Should the attraction prove successful, its developers plan to roll out more iterations both domestically and internationally, with initial interest coming from parties in China and the United Arab Emirates.

Also among Counts and Levitan’s partners on August Moon are James Diener (of Freesolo Entertainment and Alignment Artist Capital), talent manager Michael Solomon and financial backer Daniel Frishwasser, with strategic financing and partnerships coordinated by Barron International Group.


Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 62

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. joseph p. mama says:

    It would get more traffic if they put it in a decent part of town. So much for sneaking your friends in via the trunk!

  2. Ian Hunter says:

    If they get studio screening rights…

  3. garyedf says:

    I like all forms of showmanship and this i=could be fin—or terrible.

    In the mid 1970s I worked for UA Theaters in northern California. I booked the Southgate Indoor/Outdoor in Sacramento. It was a traditional walk-in adjacent to a drive-in with covered stadium seating at the back. In the tradition of drive-ins the food menu was much more extensive that walk-ins and the food area was shared between the theaters.

    This new faux drive-in concept has starry skies that hark back to “atmospheric theaters” of the 1930s. Will you they have speakers in the car or a fancy sound system? Finally you can go to a drive-in during the day.

    I remember the Disneyland version of this long ago? The half-cars were all convertibles which makes the most sense though this drawing shows mostly hardtops. I guess you need privacy to make-out and also protect you from fake birds overhead and simulated rainstorms.

    Hopefully they will have a form of stadium or levels for sight lines.

    And I would hate to be the janitor having to clean out the crevices in those seats after three hours of increasingly sloppy devouring food and drink.

    Next will be a Virtual Reality version with the audience walking around bumping into each other.

  4. Tracy Reynolds says:

    So, tell me again how this is a “drive-in” theatre?

  5. Robert says:

    Copying Disney’s Sci-Fi Drive-In Theater at Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando?

    • Kevin says:

      Yup! That’s exactly what this is except with real cars. The Disney Sci-Fi Diner has tables that are themed to look like cars. Frankly I think the real cars are going to get in the way of the movie. This would be a lot of fun as a retro movie or RiffTrax venue but if I were going to see say, the next Marvel movie, I wouldn’t want to pay to have my view blocked.

  6. tootitan says:


  7. Michael Partsch says:

    In other words, it’s an exact copy of Disney’s Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre that’s been open since 1991!! Why wait a year? Head on down to Disney Studios in Florida and enjoy right now!!! Google it!!

  8. Sharon Unterman says:

    This sounds like a totally unique idea. Can’t wait to check it out!

  9. ‘Truman’ anybody? Recreate the experience? Why not just relive the real one at less than half the price. Within 9 months they’ll be issuing coupons and discounts to try and lure people back once they did the ‘Disney’ drive in once. A ‘Drive In’ that you don’t drive into. Hmmmmm………

  10. jb says:

    The major flaw in this plan is that most movies now are worthless and unwatchable.

  11. Ethan Wayne says:

    Better be the first one there, because after the first night all the cars will smell like urine and B.O.

  12. Edward says:

    My thought is you people see how the average useless human leaves a trail of trash and destruction in their wake at the movie theatre? I would hate to see how those cars will look once the losers eat a whole meal in them? I love the idea though would be a nice experience.

  13. Tim Sarver says:

    Sounds terrible. 3 hours to see a 90 min film. Live performers?? Artisan takes on classic food, you just know it’s going to be pretentious and covered in avocado sauce. 67 in flat screen and a computer to torrent with will always beat the movie theater experience.

  14. Tell Hollywood that they don’t convey our moral standards, or ethical codes. Movies are so full of trash. Also, make 10 good movies each year, rather than 100 half-baked Netflix 2-star flops.

  15. Bill Williams says:

    How about patronizing one of our few remaining real drive-ins instead? We have the best surviving drive-in in our state in our town, and it always needs more patronage.

    Like fake food, this is a faux experience destined to disappoint.

  16. Troy says:

    Please look into increasing price, making it $20+ will hopefully ensure that it stays a great experience.

  17. Catherine says:

    Um, if you have to “recreate” the outdoors complete with fireflies, why build the dome??? Also if it’s a “drive-in” how can you sell alcohol? I know if you go to a bar or a restaurant someone may drink and drive, but if you only have two people in the car and 2 people are drinking….hate the idea. Besides if they have seating then how does that recreate the “drive in” experience, modified cars? C’mon you can’t wrap poop in a pretty package – its still poop. Bad idea. Just grow some grass, put up a screen and let nature be nature.

    • Because in the dome it’s always 72 degrees, calm and dry, 365 days of the year.. Nashville outside weather tomorrow: Thunderstorms. Later this week: highs in the 40’s; snow flurries at night.

    • Jen says:

      I just learned about “Road Beer” laws in the US. I’m in Canada and our open container laws say you can’t have any liquor that’s been opened in the seating cab. The trunk is fine, but nothing that’s been opened before can be where people are. By contrast, Montana is currently debating tabling a law that allows passengers to drink while the car is in operation. In the comments section of the article I read, people were chiming in to say that had always been the law in their state.

    • It’s not a drive-in. You walk inside and pick one of the permanently placed cars to occupy during the movie…I think.

  18. RightCowLeftCoast says:

    Or just go to one of the surviving drive-ins that still exist in our great nation. They can use our support.

  19. jeremy says:

    been there done that. there’s one in Disney world.

  20. Larry Underwood says:

    There are a number of working drive-ins still operating about an hour’s drive outside Nashville. You have the Stardust in Watertown, the Pink Cadillac in Centerville, The Macon Drive-in in Lafayette, the Franklin Drive-in in Franklin, KY just over the state line, plus several more a little further out – The HiWay 50 in Lewisburg, the Moonlite in Woodbury, etc. This August Moon indoor drive-in sounds like a terrible idea. I’ll skip that and stick to the real thing, thank you very much.

  21. Jim Jones says:

    So they are copying Disney world on this concept. This is not at all new or special, Disney has this exact concept, but much better at their park in Orlando

    • Maybe the same general concept (I’ve eaten there many times) but they don’t actually show first run movies (just a limited “loop’ of old clips and advertisements) and the “cars” are really just plastic bodied models to fit the tables. It’s really just a theme restaurant, not an operating theater with the latest projection technology and a truly massive screen. I’d give this new place a chance to actually open before declaring the Disney one “much better.”

  22. aubreyfarmer says:

    When the movies were still a novelty produced by people of imagination, virtue and all around good character drive in theaters were not only affordable but a good entertainment value. Today what do we get from Hollywood? Gore, immorality, perversions of all sorts. And they expect folks of good conscience to pay for the filth. Well, not me.

    • Exploitation and horror films have been drive-in staples practically since their invention. Let’s not pretend the “good old days” were full of virtue and innocence. I mean, hell, look at the reason most teens went to the drive-in to begin with. Drive-ins and debauchery go hand in hand… always have.

  23. Maxwell says:

    I have a feeling Nashville was chosen for having building codes that would allow for a structure like this ..and nothing else.

    • gipper says:

      It’s because Nashville has a LOT of 20-40 year old hipsters living on other people’s money so that they have cash to burn. It’s an ideal market for this kind of thing. That’s why we’re also getting a Top Golf almost next door to this place.

  24. Chet Kolson says:

    if you are gonna recreate the old drive in theater, you’ll need the old cars with the huge backseats. The Prius and other dinky cars that we have today make the backseat boogie a lot more challenging (and I’m not as limber as I used to be).

  25. john gordon says:

    That air-supported dome will cost a fortune to operate. Heating/cooling, filtration, etc. did it once. Put us out of business.

  26. Qwagg Meyers says:

    Hey Hollywood, driving to crap doesn’t make it not crap.

  27. DimpledRumpSkin says:

    Disney has that in what used to be the MGM theme park. If memory serves, it is the Sci Fi Dine In Theater. You sit in cars while being served “artisnal” burgers, fries, along with other dishes.

  28. GozieBoy says:

    This is destined for total and complete failure. Wow, who can’t see that coming!

  29. S. Stegg says:

    Aren’t drive ins cheaper? Seems like a very expensive and awkward way to re-create something simply done .

  30. Jeff Ashby says:

    How about you just build a great drive-in theater? I think there’s room for that experience again.

  31. Jim Mitchem says:

    In the early 1960’s I worked in the South Drive-In complete w/ huge neon Confederate flag sign. Separate black and white parking, etc. Man how times have changed

  32. Glen Dorn says:

    This is a disaster waiting to happen in every way imaginable….

    Aside from sitting in the trashed car interiors that will be standard not long after this venue opens, I could imagine that it won’t be long until this theatre becomes a Pee Wee Herman-type sexual pit.

    Great idea, but this is 2017 and the Day of the Progressive Pigs, not 1957….

  33. It could never replicate the real thing. Remember all us kids in the back of the wagon or in my dads panel truck with our pajamas on. Most of the drive ins in my area had amusement rides.

  34. What a great way to watch tedious inane Hollywood hogwash.

  35. Krusatyr says:

    Anything to avoid malodorous theater environs where one is sardined next to the obese, gassious and unwashed and sitting in the dried sweat of thousands of the same, all in the miasma of rancid food goo stuck to floors and shoes.

  36. TexBill says:

    This would be better than Alamo because you won’t have some stinky person sitting next to you when you try to eat. On the other hand, there might be some unusual odors coming from the previous occupants. Heck with it. I’ll stay home in my recliner watching a movie on big screen just a few feet from me.

  37. BraddahNui says:

    Or you could let people drive their own car right into the spot in an out door lot. Say, wasn’t that already done?

  38. ragu4u says:

    I hope they realize this will be the beginning of another Baby Boom!

  39. People want it in their home, period. Give us the movies right now and in the home, there sure isn’t anything else to watch on TV

  40. JTLiuzza says:

    Why not just build an actual drive in?

    • Stefan Polihronopoulos says:

      I think you have the best idea, yet. We still have a drive-in in Columbus, Ohio, and the place is always packed.

  41. Disney Fan says:

    This is not a completely original concept. The Disney Hollywood Studios theme park (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) has had a simulated indoor drive in restaurant since 1991. Like this one, it’s a complete simulated environment. It’s always been a very popular dining destination in the park.

  42. Dan Meyers says:

    Perfect for the snowflake generation. They can sip their home brewed IPA and nibble on their fully-sustainable farm-raised pork ribs while enjoying the movie in a safe, protected, free from those nasty elements (and reality) theatre. Should be a huge hit!

    • Liza says:

      I was born in the 50s and grew up going to drive-ins, so not sure how the snowflake comments apply.

      Still, as w/ others, I wonder why not just build a true drive-in w/ perks and under cover?

      • Eddie S says:

        Several factors killed off the drive-in experience: Larger real estate per screen, but you have to charge less per viewer. Fewer possible showings since you can’t open until sunset. Hearing multitrack surround sound films through a tinny single speaker. Poor viewing quality compared to indoor theaters. Add in the lines and difficulty getting in and out, and you have an experience, that while nostalgic, can’t support itself financially any more.

        Most drive-ins survived off double features, long after other theaters dropped them, but the draw of an extra, not-current movie went away once premium at-home movie channels became common.

More Biz News from Variety