Salt River Fields

The operator of the pop-up drive-in movie operation at Salt River Fields even runs a modest concession stand, but bring your own popcorn because the refreshments are all factory-wrapped.

Scottsdale Airpark-based R Entertainment is promising to “adapt and overcome” during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Instead of throwing events with elbow-to-elbow crowds, R Entertainment is taking social distancing seriously and hosting drive-in movies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. 

“We wanted to show people that they could get out of their houses in a safe way and have fun,” said Kerry Dunne of R Entertainment. “One thing we believe is people feel safe in their cars, as opposed to a room with 5,000 people.” 

And it worked. All 100 spots were sold out for the first weekend’s movies, “Frozen II” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” May 1 to May 3. 

“The faces on these kids were priceless,” Kerry said. “Everybody was smiling and happy. People were dressed up in princess costumes. It was all worth it.”

His brother, Dave Dunne, who runs Salt River Fields, said interest has blossomed for the pop-up drive-in movie experience. 

“We’re getting a lot of interest from people who want to do corporate buyouts for their staff or customers to come out for a night,” Dave said. 

“I know it’s going to start getting hot here pretty soon, but I think this might have more legs than I thought. Once the governor lifts everything off and we go back to normal, we might keep trying this for a while. 

“We’ve even thought about bringing it back for other times of the year, when the weather is a little nicer, like Christmas or early December/late November. We could have a Christmas Village with Santa and show some holiday movies.”

The movies are shown in the Center Field lot on the east side of the complex on an LED wall attached to a stage. Sound is piped in through the car radio. The price is $25 per carload and concessions can be added. For a list of movies, visit srfdrivein.com.

“I was happily surprised with the picture quality and the sound was fantastic,” Dave said.

Kerry added, “It’s really amazing to have this kind of technology to be able to do this. When technology meets opportunity, it really works out for everybody. The experience, the sound and the picture were great. The screen was out with a major rock band all last year. It’s just been hanging around in a warehouse with the guys from Showboss. Pro Production said they had a stage. My brother runs Salt River Fields. It felt like the Hardy Boys do a festival.”

Kerry said they’re working with the Diamondbacks to create a Little League night, and others have called for a first-responders’ night.

The Dunnes are considering other types of events, too, such as concerts, karaoke nights and comedy shows. 

“There was a car concert in Denmark that went off really, really well,” Kerry said, “We’ve been discussing that. We were thinking of rolling out some really cool concerts where everyone turns on their speakers and they beam the show into the car. We can make the shows interactive with Instagram, too. We can be creative as can be. The technology allows us to do so many things.

“What makes this so fun is the technology is so flexible. This has been a blessing for Salt River Fields, our partner, and us. We’re on the cutting edge of doing something positive and we keep exploring our options. It may die out the end of May and it’ll be an interesting chapter in our lives.”

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