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160 Walmart stores are turning into drive-in movie theaters, and they’re awesome

Published Aug 5th, 2020 7:58PM EDT
Walmart drive in theaters
Image: AP Photo/Richard Drew

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  • Walmart’s drive-in theaters are among of the newest reminders that 2020 is one of the strangest years in recent memory, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The retailer announced that 160 store locations would be showing drive-in movies in their parking lots for free to Walmart customers.
  • The free showings at the Walmart drive-in theaters will continue through October 21.

The coronavirus pandemic has made 2020 an extremely strange, unsettling, and unprecedented year on so many fronts, with popular entertainment reflecting many of the unusual realities brought about by the once-in-a-century public health crisis that’s overturned so much of our daily life. As we noted yesterday, for example, big feature films are now debuting on streaming platforms. Professional sports teams are playing without fans in attendance. And because cinemas in so many communities remain closed because of the pandemic, Walmart drive-in theaters are, well, now a thing, with the retailer preparing to start showing movies in the parking lot at some 160 of its stores, with 320 showings planned that will run from August 14 through October 21.

The slate of movies, which Walmart customers can enjoy for free, has been curated by the Tribeca Film Festival, and on Wednesday the retailer announced the locations where you’ll be able to check out titles that range from The Wizard of Oz to Black Panther, as well as animated favorites like Pixar’s Cars. Walmart has set up a website ( where you can get more details, including finding a location near you.

“We recognize the challenges our customers and their families have faced over the last few months, and we wanted to create an experience where they could come together safely to create new memories,” Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer, said in a news release. “The Walmart Drive-in is one small way we’re supporting the communities we serve.”

The basics: Starting at 5 pm Eastern Time today, you’ll be able to reserve a spot for free for a showing near you. Once confirmed, customers will get an email with a QR code, which will grant their vehicle entry on the day of the event.

The movies will start at 7:30 p.m., and gates will open at 6 p.m. (no, you can’t enter late). As noted, tickets are free, but you have to arrange this beforehand as tickets will not be available at the gate.

As an added treat, Walmart is planning to bring filmmakers and special guests to these showings around the country. Drew Barrymore, for example, will serve as the virtual host for all events, welcoming guests to “a fun family night experience.” She will also make a surprise in-person appearance at one location, while families will be also be treated to surprise virtual or in-person appearances from celebrities including Jennifer Garner, LeBron James, and Chrissy Metz at select showings.

The showings will take place rain or shine. Check here for the full rundown of rules and everything guests need to know.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.