Walmart to transform 160 store parking lots into drive-in movie theaters this summer

Free tickets are being given out starting August 5.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Randee Dawn

Walmart has long provided pretty much everything a customer could ever want — and this summer, the mega store is introducing one more very special item: a free drive-in theater experience.

The company announced in July that it is transforming 160 of its store parking lots into "contact-free drive-in movie theaters" for a limited time. Customers will be able to watch movies curated by Tribeca Drive-In team and the touring "red carpet experience" will be available in towns across the U.S. for a combined 320 shows total.

Walmart parking lots will host families for contact-free drive-in movies.Walmart

And on August 5, the company released not only the film titles that will be available, but the theaters where audiences can watch them — and began handing out free tickets!

The films set up for screening are: "Wonder Woman" (2017), "Spy Kids" (2018), "Space Jam" (1996), "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" (2018), "Ghostbusters" (1984), "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), "Black Panther" (2018), "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), and "Friday Night Lights" (2004). Dates and times will vary per location, and a list of locations can be found here. Theaters are not in every state.

In addition, filmmakers and special guests are expected to make virtual appearances, including Drew Barrymore, Peter Berg, Jennifer Garner, LeBron James and Chrissy Metz.

"This family-friendly night will include hit movies, special appearances from filmmakers and celebrities and concessions delivered right to customer vehicles," the company said in a news release.

The movies will be screened from August through October, with gates opening at 6 p.m.; films begin at 7:30 p.m. Ahead of each show, customers will be able to order their "drive-in essentials" for curbside pickup on the way into the movie.

Walmart also partnered with Tribeca Drive-In on a movie series starting July 2, where in select cities (Arlington, Texas; Pasadena, California; Nassau County, New York and Orchard Beach in the Bronx, New York) were able to enjoy screenings of films like "Wonder Woman" and "Space Jam."

"Drive-Ins have been a signature program for Tribeca since we started the Tribeca Film Festival 19 years ago after 9/11," Jane Rosenthal, CEO and co-founder of Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival, said in a statement. "But now, the Tribeca Drive-In is much more than a fun, retro way to see movies — it's one of the safest ways for communities to gather."

"Jurassic Park" at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre, in Wellfleet, MA on June 25. Craig F. Walker / Boston Globe via Getty Images

Social distancing and quarantining has been keeping most Americans isolated in their homes, and movie theaters have been shut down for months. So it's no surprise that drive-ins are making a comeback, not just for movies but also for concerts, graduations and even weddings.

"A lot of people are going to feel a little bit safer coming to the drive-ins than indoors," Beth Wilson, who owns Warwick Drive-In in Warwick, New York, about 60 miles from New York City, told TODAY in April. "The indoors, the people I work with in this business, they are trying everything they can and doing whatever they can to protect their customers, also. I think, for this year, it might just be the thing of the new realm for this year for seeing movies."

Only about 20 drive-ins around the country are open, out of 305 that exist; that's down from a high of 4,300 drive-ins at the experience's peak in 1957, according to an estimate by John Vincent, president of the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association.

Free tickets to the Walmart showing around the U.S. will be available starting August 5 at 5 p.m. ET; click here to sign up. For more information, check out the dedicated website for the event: WalmartDrive-In.com.