Drive-in cinema makes a comeback in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic providing patrons entertainment from the comfort of their cars 

Ster-Kinekor has launched a new drive-in cinema in Sandton City, marking the return of the cinema model popular in the 60s and an alternative to enjoy the latest silver screen releases while adhering to covid-19 safety measures. It’s a throwback movie-goers have been calling for. 

“I’ve been waiting for so long for drive-in cinemas to come back,” said Kamogelo Magano, a Marvel movie fan and third-year BSc student at the University of Pretoria. 

“I remember going to see them when I was a kid with my whole family, so when I saw Ster-Kinekor bring them back, I felt a sense of excitement.”  

The drive-in is reminiscent of the days when families would get together to enjoy a double feature of back-to-back films. Patrons could watch two movies for the price of one, free from modern cinema conventions of having to keep quiet, making for a more natural and homely viewing experience. 

The drive-in cinema is located on the rooftop parking area of Sandton City. It will be contactless, to limit the risk of infection as well as to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to. The selection of films on show includes new releases like Godzilla vs Kong and oldies like Disney’s Frozen 

Tickets are available online at R250 per car for new film releases, and R200 for pre-screened films. They will be running from June 3 to July 31, 2021, every Thursday to Sunday.  

The drive-in cinema business hit a decline in the 80s with the emergence of DVD and video rental services, like Mr Video and ViDEO SPOT, which provided at home convenience. The recent rise of the video on demand (VOD) industry, together with the pandemic, have devastated the movie industry in South Africa. Early lockdown restrictions meant that local cinemas were deemed sites at high risk of spreading the virus, and were closed to the public. The revenue losses saw Ster-Kinekor enter business rescue in January 2021. 

Cinemas reopened in July 2020 as restrictions were eased. The drive-in cinema provides a fun and convenient way to keep the activity of movie watching safe while leaving your home. 

Nokukhanya Mohlamme, a first-year interior design student at Vega, told Wits Vuvuzela she enjoyed the ease of drive-in cinemas. “With covid, a lot of people weren’t able to go to the cinemas and watch movies the way we were traditionally, so this is a more safe and convenient way for people to watch in the comfort of their own cars.” 

Sandton City is not the only drive-in popping-up in Johannesburg. Molly Malones in Fourways has a roadhouse drive-in, an American diner tradition where food is served to you in your parked car. Films are played on their movie nights. 

The movie line-up for The City Drive-In and schedule can be accessed at 

FEATURED IMAGE: The City Drive-In billboard in Sandton City. Photo: Zanolwazi Kunene