MobMov and the New-School Drive-In Movie

Erika Young October 24, 2007

MobMov (short for "mobile movie") combines the four-wheeled charm of an old-time drive-in with the technologist’s urge to pimp his or her ride into a rolling film-projection booth. Located wherever there’s room to park, screenings are advertised by e-mail only a few days in advance, which adds to the underground appeal. (This September’s San Rafael screening was Bong Joon-ho’s 2006 eco-thriller "The Host," which is a particularly interesting cultural experience when seen on the side of an old Breuners furniture showroom, behind the local A&W.)

At a MobMov screening, you can see anything from vintage intermission shorts (downloadable from the Internet) to an independent film to a fully licensed Hollywood blockbuster. Plus, you can interact with others as you please. Want to bring your 6-month-old infant? Keep the windows rolled up, and no one will know the difference. Or you can eat snacks with your fellow patrons — viewers have brought pizza, tamales, cupcakes and even an entire cheesecake to share, says MobMov founder Bryan Kennedy.

According to San Rafael chapter driver Bill Stanton, MobMov screenings have a much more personal appeal than even the drive-ins that still exist. Last year while driving through Sacramento, Stanton stopped at the local drive-in on a whim — his girlfriend and her daughter saw the screen from the freeway — to see "Barnyard: The Original Party Animals." The experience was nothing special, he says, just the same kind of feeling that you get at any multiscreen movie theater. And the movie? "It was horrendous."

Kennedy, who works as a Web developer during the day, says that the only out-of-the-ordinary thing that’s ever happened was when a police officer came by after one of the shows. "I almost had a heart attack thinking he was going to fine me," he says, "but in fact he just told me that he’d seen us around a couple times and wondered what the radio station was so he could tune in."

Note: The San Francisco chapter just showed two screenings: Robert Zemeckis’ "Back to the Future" on Treasure Island last Friday, and the independent horror film "Head Trauma" (Lance Weiler, 2006) in the lot behind Burning Man headquarters last Saturday. To learn how to become a MobMov driver, or to sign up for your local chapter, go to the web site, (No matter if you’re located in Long Beach or Lisbon; MobMov has chapters all over the world.)

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