The Gold Town Nickelodeon’s drive-in theatre’s new location at the downtown subport lot hosts a fully armed and operational screen for all-weather conditions, seen here on Feb. 18, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The Gold Town Nickelodeon’s drive-in theatre’s new location at the downtown subport lot hosts a fully armed and operational screen for all-weather conditions, seen here on Feb. 18, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

New faces downtown: Drive-in theater settles into new home

The Gold Town Theater’s drive-in gets lively with its showings.

The Gold Town Theater’s roving drive-in theater has settled into a new and convenient location: downtown at the subport lot.

“We have it set up in such a way that we’re more weatherproof. It’s more about the sturdiness of the frame,” said Collette Costa, theater manager. “Because we didn’t have a permanent space, we couldn’t build anything solid.”

The drive-in theater has meandered about Juneau, beginning near the Juneau Yacht Club and appearing later at the parking lot of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. While it’s been at its new location for a bit over a month, Costa said, foul weather has prevented it from getting a lot of use.

“Hal Daugherty made us a screen from a really nice canvas. The weather has not cooperated with us to hang up yet,” Costa said. “The only thing that really stops us now is if it gets too cold for our employees to stand around for four hours.”

With its new home at the subport lot, rented from Norwegian Cruise Line, they’ll be able to provide an enhanced experience for guests whilst at the show, Costa said.

“We’re grateful to NCL for letting us use the space and to Tracy (LaBarge) for letting us use the space,” Costa said. “Our next big step is to bring some concessions down there. A lot fewer bears here. Tracy is going to let us use one of her little shacks, which is (Department of Environmental Conservation)-approved. We’ll do car delivery. You call us up or text us, and we’ll bring it to your car.”

Marathons and premieres

The drive-in is also diversifying its fare, Costa said, aiming to draw in different crowds.

“Next weekend, we’re opening with the first new movie we’re premiering,” Costa said. “We haven’t seen a lot of crossover between the people we’d see at the theatre and the people at the drive through.”

The film, “Minari”, about a Korean-American family starting a farm in Arkansas, will begin showing on Monday night and run through the week, Costa said. This weekend will also see the Friday release of the remastered “Heartworn Highways,” telling the story of the Outlaw Country musical movement, and a Saturday and possibly Sunday showing of “Malcolm X” for Black History Month, Costa said.

“When May rolls around, and it’s a little nicer, we’ll probably do evening shows,” Costa said. “We’ll definitely expand to Thursdays.”

The drive-in will be showing other popular films, including the full Harry Potter movie series over spring break, potentially chased with a Lord of the Rings marathon, Costa said. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first installation of both fantasy series.

A lot of different types of films for showing are under consideration, Costa said.

“A number of bigger distributors have changed their distribution prices because of COVID. Some of them are much more reasonable,” Costa said. “The problem with something like Harry Potter is I still have to buy eight movies.”

The drive-in, while primarily operating weekends, is open for rentals as well, Costa said, if an organization or individual wanted to hold a private event. The theatre is also putting together a program for free or discounted tickets for hospital employees and emergency medical personnel, Costa said.

“We’re open to the idea of private rentals which would include any business or corporation which would want to sponsor something for the community or a part of the population,” Costa said.

Costa said they’re also thinking about how to use their venue for good during the Arctic summer, when a drive in theatre isn’t super-viable.

The Gold Town Theater’s physical theater is also reopening for rentals for family or pod groups of eight or fewer, Costa said. Specific showings are arrangeable through the theatre’s email at goldtowntheater@gmail.com.

Got a yen for the drive-in big screen?

Go to the Gold Town Theater’s website at https://goldtownnick.com/.

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