When the sun goes down and the August breeze fills the summer night, many people choose to spend their time basking in the night air and moonlight. This past weekend, many of those people had the luxury of enjoying a movie while spending time outdoors. Last weekend, August 3 through August 5, Zidell Yards turned into a “pop-up drive-in theater,” according to Oregon Live.
Under the west end of the Ross Island Bridge, a vacant, gravel-covered lot was temporarily transformed into Portland’s first genuine drive-in theater since the Foster Drive-In, which closed in 1999. Zidell Yards is an empty rectangle that sits on the South Waterfront landscape, and it has been owned by the shipbuilding Zidell family for decades. The area is filling in quickly with development by Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and others. The Zidell family has environmentally restored the land following long-term industrial use, and with the land ready for use, the Zidell family decided to turn it into a pop-up drive-in theater. The idea came from Matt French, the nephew of current Zidell Companies head Jay Zidell.
The films were chosen in coordination with the Northwest Film Center. The Northwest Film Center was established in 1971 as a regional media arts resource and service organization. It was founded to encourage the study, appreciation, and utilization of the moving image arts, foster their artistic and professional excellence, and help create a climate in which they may flourish. The Center provides a variety of film and video exhibition, education, and information programs, and it directs its services to the residents of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.
Saturday included a double feature of Singin’ in the Rain at dusk and Dazed and Confused at midnight. Sunday night featured Jaws, and they closed the drive-in Monday night with Blue Velvet. Tickets were $8 per person per film, or $12 per person for the double feature. Sound emanated from a speaker array near the 40-foot wide screen, and any radio tuned to the appropriate FM frequency also played the sound.
Snacks were available, and there was ample room for cars and blankets alike. Provisions included an on-site food vendor that served frankfurters, brats, kasekrainer, or Austrian smoked cheese dog, popcorn, and drinks.
The spot provided a rare perspective on the Willamette River and downtown Portland, including the under-construction Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge and Ross Island Bridge. These bridge towers also happen to be completely graffiti-free, making it a unique environment to create a memorable movie experience.
If you missed this, but you’re looking for a drive-in experience in Oregon, check out driveinmovie.com for drive-in theaters around the Portland area. And keep an eye on Zidell Yards for upcoming events and developments. Now that they’ve made the area environmentally safe, the opportunities for growth and events such as this drive-in are endless.