For founder Bob Weir, the new Bear Drive-In movie theater is a call back to how he got started in entertainment in high school, working at a drive-in theater near his home.
With his business set to open Friday, the once-dated drive-in experience is returning to the area.
“Due to the pandemic, where people had to social distance, it made a huge resurgence,” Weir said.
The drive-in at 1061 E. Songsmith Drive – behind the Lowe’s hardware store – consists of two screens, with each area able to fit 150 cars.
“We did this all in two weeks,” Weir said. “From me setting up a sign out there that says ‘open soon,’ to this.”
On July 24, the theater held a private showing of “Beetlejuice,” allowing Weir’s friends and family to see the screen in action, with a giant Michael Keaton soaring over rows of cars.
“I think everybody had a good time,” Weir said after the showing. “I think we have a hit on our hands.”
Weir previously operated the State Theatre in Newark, Chestnut Hill Cinema Cafe and Theater N. When he operated Chestnut Hill, he purchased his projectors from the Diamond State Drive-in, which is when he first got the idea to create his own theater. Weir currently works at the Grand Opera House and helped organize movies at Bellevue State Park for the Grand Opera’s “Drive-In Cinema’’ series.
He had the idea for the theater years ago, but the issue was finding a suitable location for the theater. Weir originally thought of building the theater at the former Avon site on Ogletown Road near Newark, but the owners of the Avon location, Reybold Venture Group, instead offered him the current location in Bear.
The Bear Drive-in is based around cargo containers, from the concession stand to the stacks of containers that hold up the screen.
Weir said the permit process took a while because, while the government was cooperative, he was asking New Castle County officials to allow something that hasn’t been done locally in decades.
“It’s just trying to explain the concept to somebody that doesn’t know what it is,” Weir said. “It just takes a little longer. I’s have to be dotted and T’s have to be crossed in a situation like this.”
The theater’s public grand opening will be celebrated on July 30 with showings of “F9,” the latest installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, and “Jungle Cruise’’ starring Dwayne Johnson. Weir said the theater will focus on first-run blockbusters, with older movies shown on Thursdays.
Admission is $15 per person for adults and includes popcorn and a drink. On Wednesdays, an entire carload of people can get in for $30. Children aged 4 and under can get in for free.
The theatre will be open Wednesday through Sunday before Labor Day and Thursday through Saturday after Labor Day. The gates open at 7 p.m., with movies starting at dusk. Along with films, the drive-in will have the standard assortment of concession stand snacks and drinks.
“It’s a truly comfortable experience, and you still get the experience of watching a great movie,” said Marion Jackson, director of operations. “It’s a great excuse to leave the house after being stuck inside for a year.”