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Huge drive-in cinema screen at Tour & Taxis this summer

22:15 30/06/2020

The drive-in cinema - the supreme American icon of the mid-20th century - is enjoying a comeback in Brussels, offering open-air screenings at Tour & Taxis all summer long.

Drive-ins are seeing a renewed life due to the pandemic, as people are wary about spending a couple of hours in an enclosed space packed in with scores of strangers.

They have been popping up lately in Germany, France and Iran among others. And, of course, Greece is famous for its walk-in outdoor movies and they are currently more popular than ever. Now Brussels will have its own.

Called Movie Drive, it will operate from July until September at Tour & Taxis with a 340m² LED screen - bigger than a basketball court, in fact the biggest screen in Europe.

“The LED screen allows us to show movies in the afternoon,” says co-producer Mario Iacampo. “The idea was that we wanted the event to be accessible to everyone and having children come to a screening at 22.00 isn’t realistic.

“In terms of the size of the screen, the worst thing I find is when I can’t quite see what’s going on clearly and we did some tests last night with some films and I was seated 150m away and it was as clear as being in my living room. The objective is to have a bigger-than-life feeling.”

Movie Drive will be showing classics, cult films, feature length animation movies, biopics, horror movies and some classic Belgian films. There will also be partnerships with film festivals that have been unable to take place, as well as with cultural institutions and sporting events.

The audience will not be limited to those in cars. Bike riders and pedestrians will be welcome in a special beach-like area and they will be provided with beach chairs, the angle of which is perfect for viewing the huge screen. Food trucks will be providing sustenance with the food delivered to your vehicle.

It’s not the first time that Brussels has had a drive-in cinema. From 1988 to 2009 it was a summer tradition in Cinquantenaire park. Located in the forecourt of the arch between Autoworld and the Army Museum, the movies, both new releases and classics, were projected on a giant inflatable screen for the enjoyment of 250 carloads at a time - a summer total of more than 15,000 fans. Screenings were priced at 500 francs per vehicle and 150 for pedestrians.

Not only did participants enjoy the movies but there were special activities week to week such as a 1960s-style hair salon and American foods. The summer cultural offer in Brussels in the 1990s was rather limited and the event was so popular that it created traffic jams in the neighbourhood.

But, starting in the new century it began to have competition from other events and it gradually lost its corporate sponsors, the coup de grace being the financial crisis of 2008. Now a new tradition starts at Tour & Taxis.

Movie Drive, 3 July to 19 September. Car with two people €25, €7.50 per extra person. On bike or on foot €10.

Written by Richard Harris