The Financial Reality of Drive In Movies

Financials drive in cinema

Drive In Movies make absolutely fantastic events and when they are done well the attendees have a fantastic time but for event organisers who think it could be a ‘nice little earner’ they may need to think again.

Open Air Cinema has been very popular in the last few years and we’d certainly recommend organising an event with us if you have financial reward in mind but the truth about Drive In Movies is that they can be far from a money making experience.

With our own Drive In Movie events we fit around 100 cars with great views of the screen in the space that we could fit 500 people at a picnic style event. We’d say 100 – 120 is a good number for our “Extra Large” screen size. At a Drive In Movie you’d generally get two people in a car for a ticket price of around £25. 100 x £25, well, you do the math(s)!

£2500 that sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Well, let’s get to the reality. Firstly you only get £2500 if you sell out but let’s take that scenario anyway.

Your first cost is the VAT at 20%, both annoying and unavoidable, you’re down to £2000.

£2000 Ok, still not bad but here is an equally annoying and unavoidable cost …
When you screen a film in public you are legally obliged to obtain a licence which would need to be approved by the film studio. As an example, in the case of “Frozen” the studio would be Disney and in the case of “The Greatest Showman” the studio would be 20th Century Fox. The studios generally require 40% of your ticket income, sometimes more but we’ll take the best case. This is 40% of your top line (40% of £2500) not 40% of what is left so far. So we’re down to £1000 left, it’s probably not looking so attractive at this point. But let’s go on.

£1000 Hmm … So what else is there to pay out on?
Plenty, how about the venue ? It wouldn’t be unusual to be charged between £500 and £1250 for a suitable venue.
Staff? Drive In Movies require more staff than a picnic style event as there is traffic control and extra safety systems to think about plus wider areas to cover. As a conservative estimate, if we pay 8 adults for 7 hours even at minimum wage (currently £8.72) it comes to £488.
Advertising? Unless you have a ready made audience then you’ll probably be looking at a minimum of £200 and potentially a lot more. Leaflets, banners, online.
Equipment Rental … Of course there is the cost of hiring the equipment whether it is from us or somewhere else this is likely to be in the region of £1250 – £2000, maybe more.
You may also need such things as traffic cones or crowd barriers.
Other costs will include the FM Broadcast licence at around £400+ per application, this is a legal requirement when using FM Radio Broadcast equipment.
Event licences such as a TEN.
Plus all the sundry costs that go with event organisation, the fuel, the ticketing, the insurance.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve most certainly broken through zero, in fact if I take the lower end of each estimate given above with no sundries or additional equipment rental included we are at a deficit of over £1800.

If you are not running for profit then Drive In Movies are very nice events but if you are, get your spreadsheet and work those numbers.

For corporate events, presentations or PR events please contact us about using our own fully licensed venue with FM Broadcast.