Blue Starlite Miami Urban Drive-In Opening: Inside Wynwood's New Vintage Movie Theater
Rainstorms threatened Miami all day yesterday, but somebody up there must really love vintage movies in a retro, open-air setting. Blue Starlite Miami Urban Drive-In launched its soft opening week last night with Pretty in Pink and damn near perfect weather.
Photos by Ciara LaVelle
The lot was already nearing capacity at around 8 p.m. last night, half an hour in advance of the film's advertised start time. Couples parked in convertibles, a family with kids set up folding chairs in the flatbed of their pickup truck, and a few stragglers snagged spots on the lawn in front of the screen, using blankets or the two small tables provided by Blue Starlite.
To drive-in virgins, the setup at Blue Starlite might have seemed sparse. It's essentially a large screen set up in an open lot, with a few speaker stands jutting out of the ground and a central hub, comprising the concession stand and projection area, made up of a vintage truck.
But drive-in movie theaters are supposed to be sparse; logistically, you have to leave room for all the cars, and philosophically, it's the only way to walk the fine line between sharing a communal movie experience and retaining a sense of privacy -- something only drive-in theaters can do. (When was the last time you felt comfortable snuggling with your partner or sending a quick text to a friend in a regular multiplex?)
In fact, by drive-in standards, Blue Starlite is downright swanky. The lot is lined with stenciled images of classic pop culture characters: Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis. String lighting helps guide visitors way to and from the concessions and the restrooms. Owner Josh Frank promised authentic vintage speakers, and he delivered -- the look and sound they create is genuinely old school. And that cherry red vintage truck at the center of it all adds an extra retro touch.
The intimacy of a boutique drive-in works in Blue Starlite's favor, too. Each car was led to its parking spot by a theater attendant; Frank made a point of welcoming each ticketholder to the theater personally, thanking them for checking out the place and making sure they were happy with their experience so far. When was the last time a multiplex theater employee appeared to care about your feelings?