Outdoor cinemas are trending within Perth, quickly becoming the premier summer film choice in a post drive-in environment. Drive-ins were once a popular viewing experience for Australians, with the first conventional drive-in, in Perth opening in Bentley in October 1955. This sparked a boom of drive-ins across the state, however the golden era was short lived and in the mid-1990s only one drive-in still remained in Perth and continues to operate to this day: The Galaxy in Kingsley.
So why don’t we have drive-ins anymore? It’s simple really, they are inefficient uses of space and in Perth’s sprawling developmental context they had to make way for residential neighbourhoods and shopping centres. While we have lost a great medium to enjoy film, popularity merely shifted and sparked a new outdoor viewing experience.
This shift brought about the popularity of the outdoor cinema and with it, the ability to provide an engaging activity for communities through an efficient use of space. Remember when you were a kid and playing outside after school was one of the greatest enjoyments of your young life. Well, outdoor cinemas are like that, except with the enjoyment of watching a film on the big screen. The feeling of being under the stars on a warm summer’s eve, enjoying the comfort of a nice blanket and watching a canvas flicker to life with the movement of blockbusters, cult classics and all the greats in between. It is something special and alive in Perth today. Outdoor cinemas provide a social, engaging boost for Perth’s night-time economy and they’re taking off!
Outdoor cinemas are popping up all over Perth in popular, attractive spaces which require much needed public activation. Perth’s dry summer climate is perfect for facilitating the outdoor cinema format which helps invigorate the activation of spaces during night-time hours. I think outdoor cinemas reflect much of the values associated with Perth and in part why they've become so popular. They represent Perth’s relaxed, small town vibe while still facilitating hundreds of people in an intimate setting under the stars.
Take your partner, take your kids, or enjoy the atmosphere in a group. What’s so great about outdoor cinemas is that they are a completely communal activity, available to everyone. It’s social exclusion to be stuck inside an air-conditioned box development shopping centre watching a film in uncomfortable, dirty seats but its social inclusion to enjoy a film in the outdoors amongst a bunch of like-minded people.
Outdoor cinemas provide a public value in their conception that is great to see in Perth. The one downside is that they only operate during the summer months, understandably so. Outdoor cinemas are becoming increasingly popular and I believe could become a cultural asset of Perth due to the values they represent and how this is reflected in Perth’s cultural identity. I put forward a motion that each of you attend an outdoor cinema this summer and become a part of this trending medium to enjoy the beauty of film.
I’ve listed some popular outdoor cinemas which are operated in Perth below: