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Interesting alternatives to conventional cinemas across the globe


With most movies available online now, setting up your own makeshift cinema is as easy as connecting to the internet and selecting a movie to stream. While most people would do this in a home theatre style in order to enjoy movies comfortably while staying safe at home during social distancing, it can also be tweaked to include a larger number of people, specifically serving as a theatre to more than just one home.

We’re talking outdoor cinemas. Since most cinemas across the globe are still closed or moviegoers are still wary of being cooped up in an enclosed hall for hours with possible COVID-19 carriers, alternative ways of watching a movie in open-air settings have been cropping up around the world.

If you have a car, a boat or a vast blank wall, any of the following could be your next cinematic experience.

Drive-in cinema


Lower chance of virus spreading via contact when moviegoers are
safely cocooned in their own cars. (Photo source: Reuters | Athit Perawongmetha)

This concept has been well-known in the West side of the world for decades now but it’s only gaining popularity over on our side of the world in recent times. Driven by the need to fill up the void left by temporarily shuttered cinemas, drive-in cinemas are not only making a comeback in the US but are also debuting in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand (Bangkok, pictured above) and Malaysia (currently only Perak, with a few more to come in the Klang Valley area soon). Singapore, Lithuania and Dubai are among other nations that also feature car-friendly cinemas. How this works is moviegoers simply drive their cars into allocated parking spots, roll down their car windows (to prevent carbon monoxide build-up as the engine still needs to run for the audio to be transmitted through the car radio) and enjoy the movie projected onto a big screen. 

Floating cinema


Sit in a boat or a deck chair to enjoy your movie.
(Photo source: Getty Images | The National)

The latest to implement this style of outdoor movie experience is France, specifically on the river Seine in Paris. It is part of this year’s Paris Plages, an annual event that turns the city’s waterfront into temporary artificial beaches for Parisians and visitors alike to enjoy on hot summer days. Cinephiles can either watch the movie from their boats or from safely distanced chairs on the decks. Of course, floating cinema is not unique to the French city as other nations have done it before, though not during social distancing time. For example, Australia has previously conducted on-water screenings of Hollywood movies aboard a boat on Sydney Harbour during the summer times, while according to Pandotrip, a floating water theatre designed by German architect Ole Scheeren once floated beside the island of Kudu Noi, not far from Phuket.

Roaming cinema


With the roaming cinema, movie-lovers get to watch movies from
the comfort of their windows or balconies. (Photo source: New York Post)

Instead of going to the movies, the movies come to you! This unique cinema is an uplifting initiative taken by the city council of Madrid, Spain, and Amazon Prime Video to entertain Spaniards who are stuck at home during quarantine. Called the Cine de Balcon project (Balcony Cinema project), it is termed so since anyone can watch the playing movies from their balconies or windows. How it works is a huge screen is mounted on a truck, which will be parked outside of apartment blocks, and residents can then enjoy the movies or series playing on the screen. A roaming cinema or mobile cinema is definitely a refreshing concept as it eliminates physical contacts among audience members and provides a safe alternative for movie-starved cinephiles.

Living cinema


Blank walls make for a great art canvas, or movie screen.
(Photo source: Clare Keogh’s Twitter)

Quite similar to the above, residents get to enjoy movies on the big screen without leaving the comfort of their home. What’s different is instead of mounted on a roaming vehicle, this “screen” remains stationary – because it’s the side of a building. Movies are projected onto blank walls or sides of buildings for everyone within its vicinity to enjoy. Similar to drive-in cinemas, the audio is transmitted via the radio. The Azotea Coyote (also dubbed the ‘living cinema’) in Mexico City, according to Celluloid Junkie, asks its social media followers to nominate a rooftop or any large wall and they will then select their next location to project their films on. Meanwhile in places like Italy, Philippines, Brazil, Vietnam, England, France, Switzerland and Bulgaria, residents have taken it upon themselves to project movies onto buildings so that they can enjoy them with their neighbours.

The Luna Cinema


Don’t worry, screenings during the pandemic will be more “socially spacious”.
(Photo source: The Luna Cinema)

This UK-based open-air cinema deserves its own spot here thanks to its unique choice of screening locations. It doesn’t stay put at just one place, it moves from one location to another with every movie. What makes that even more notable is the fact that these are often historical spots or heritage sites. Lulworth Castle, Guildford Cathedral and Blenheim Palace; to name a few. Screening up to three movies per day, often in the evening, the cinema sometimes stays put at one location for several consecutive days before moving on to the next one. This definitely makes for an interesting alternative as not many can boast that they’ve enjoyed a movie as the sun sets and stars rise over them at Tonbridge Castle (pictured).

(Photo source: Window Flicks, Inavate, The Luna Cinema, Ed Jones | AFP, Getty Images | The National)
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