By Charmain Z. Brackett Correspondent
Since Hollywood hasn’t been releasing films during the pandemic, the projectors at Monetta Drive-In Theatre better known as The Big Mo in Monetta, S.C., haven’t been running.
But the owners have found a new way to open the drive-in’s gates to a different audience as well as test the waters for when they can show films again. The drive-in will be the site of two outdoor concerts this summer – one with TobyMac on June 23 and the other with Newsboys United on July 7.
“This is scary and exciting. We’ve never done this before,” said Lisa Boaz, who has owned the drive-in with her husband, Richard, since 1999. “It’s scary because it’s something we’ve never done. We’ve learned a few things. But it’s exciting because this could be a new stream of revenue for us.”
The concerts will give them a chance to implement new safety guidelines prior to reopening later this summer.
The artists will appear on the main field. Boaz said the music will likely be able to be heard from the main field as video will be streamed to the screens on the two additional fields.
Additional safety measures include reduced capacity at each of the fields, masks being worn if patrons exit their vehicles; and six-foot spacing at the restrooms and concessions. Playgrounds will be closed.
Boaz said one of the things they are exploring will be the concessions. She said they may opt for more items that are pre-packaged and ready to purchase rather than preparing food items on site.
“This is a fluid process. There could still be other changes,” she said.
TobyMac and the Diverse City Band will play at 7 p.m. June 23. TobyMac is a Christian rap and hip hop artist who began his music career in 1987 with the band DC Talk, winners of four Grammy Awards. He released his first solo album in 2001 and has recorded eight albums, garnering numerous Grammy and Dove Award wins.
Newsboys United features Michael Tait, TobyMac’s former band mate with DC Talk. Newsboys United is a band that reunited former members of the group. The Newsboys were nominated for four Grammy Awards.
Both TobyMac and Newsboys United are doing a drive-in tour this summer.
Tickets for the shows are available at https://www.driveintheatertour.com. There is a limit of six people per vehicle. Tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold at the gate.
Boaz said they are in negotiations for another possible concert later in the summer.
She doesn’t know when movies will be shown on the screens again.
“As far as movies go, we are waiting on Hollywood to release new features,” she said. “It could be the middle of July before the first big release.”
And instead of there being double features at each of the fields, they will likely only have single features to begin with.
The Big Mo is located at 5822 Columbia Highway N., in Monetta. It’s one of three drive-in theaters in South Carolina. Situated between Columbia and Augusta, the theater draws patrons from those two cities and many communities in between, Boaz said. But they also draw patrons from as far away as Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
For more information about The Big Mo, visit thebigmo.com or https://www.facebook.com/Monetta-Drive-In-Theatre-The-Big-MO-151018378269068.