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Unable to host patrons inside, Terrace Theater starts an old-fashioned drive-in

If you can’t screen movies inside the theaters, then maybe projecting some old favorites on the exterior wall of the building will suffice.

A pandemic and consequent civic shutdown will drive any small business owner to desperation, and desperation can lead to creative solutions.

Paul Brown, owner of the Terrace Theater, has a business model that depends on people packing tightly into confined spaces. So when he had to close his mini-multiplex on James Island, all the income dried up in a flash.

Then he had an idea: What if he makes a few adjustments to the small parking lot on the east side of the building and whitened the exterior wall to use as a screen? Patrons could watch the movie from their cars; he could deliver the sound via FM radio … and voila! Charleston gets a drive-in!

The rules are strict: Tickets are $25 per carload, maximum six people per car; all tickets and concessions must be purchased online in advance; patrons check in and then are directed to their parking spot one car at a time; gates open at 7 p.m. and the first film begins at 8 p.m. No one can get out of their car (except to use the restrooms inside, and then only three at a time, maximum).

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A little nervous about whether he’d pull it off, Brown played it close to the vest. But Friday evening’s “no cash-no contact” double feature was a sell-out.

Currently, he’s alternating between showing “Trolls” and “Back to the Future” and screening “Jaws” and “The Invisible Man.”

The Terrace Theater also is offering a streaming service. On the menu are “The Bookseller,” “The Roads Not Taken,” “The Times of Bill Cunningham,” “Extra Ordinary,” “Sorry We Missed You,” “The Etruscan Smile,” “The Whistlers,” “Once Were Brothers” and “Slay the Dragon.”

For more information and tickets, go to terracetheater.com.

Contact Adam Parker at aparker@postandcourier.com or 843-937-5902.

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