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Grateful Dead legend Bob Weir has nothing to do with a new drive-in theater set to debut in New Castle County.

But another man named Bob Weir, former owner of the N Theater in Nemours in Wilmington and unrelated to the rock icon, is behind this nostalgic project.

The new drive-in, which is slated to be located behind Lowe’s Home Improvement at 1061 E. Songsmith Drive in Bear, could start selling tickets by the end of July, Weir told the News Journal / Delaware Online.

While drive-in-style pop-ups were all the rage in Delaware and elsewhere during the pandemic, Weir would like to see his project become the state’s only permanent drive-in.

The dual-screen drive-in, he said, will be Bear’s very first. The venue will present first-run films.

“If it’s new, it’s more than likely we’ll show it,” said Weir, formerly of Stanton, who moved to Fair Hill, Md., Last year.

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New Castle County Manager Matthew Meyer is already ready for the new venture.

“[In] the immortal lyrics of “Dirty Harry” by Clint Eastwood, this news “made my day,” Meyer said. “Loosely paraphrasing another iconic film line, I have no doubt that” When they build it, we’ll come. “”

A core of inspiration

The motivation for the Bear Drive-In started from a core idea last fall when The Grand in Wilmington, where Weir works daily, presented his “Drive-In Cinema” series at Bellevue State Park, with a theme of movie musicals.

The series left such an impression on Weir, CTO of The Grand, that he decided to see if he could recreate that magic in the parking lot of the old Avon factory in Newark.

After reaching out to Reybold Venture Group, owners of the Avon factory, Reybold instead offered him the option of using their property behind Lowe’s, which spans about five or six acres, Weir said.

The Delaware native is building his two cinema screens from freight shipping containers that will showcase films from digital film projectors.

Weir takes an unconventional route by assembling his displays from containers because “it’s quick and easy, it’s affordable and convenient.”

The history of the Delaware drive-in backwards

It’s been a dozen years since Delaware’s drive-in movie era came to an end when Felton’s Diamond State Drive-In on Route 13 presented his latest double feature, “Bolt” and “Madagascar: Escape 2. Africa “.

At that time, the theater was an oddity, the last one standing after operating from 1949 to 1986 before rebooting in 1995 for a final 13-year edition.

Flash-forward to 2020 – an era of high-back recliners in multiplexes with IMAX screens and unlimited comfort in home theaters – and everyone thought drive-ins were not just gone, they were. were gone for good.

Then a global pandemic struck.

In addition to The Grand, which returned by popular demand with its “Drive-In Cinema” in the spring, other drive-in experiences that intensified in First State during the pandemic included screenings last summer. from the original 1996 version of “Space Jam” at Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, plus a screening of Sylvester Stallone’s classic “Rocky” at Lefty’s Alley & Eats in Lewes.

Over the past year, drive-ins across the country have emerged in a welcome revival. Some proponents of this beloved pastime have even converted.

Back to the future: Drive-in theaters are suddenly coming back to Delaware

Weir invites families to join his popcorn-loving congregation when the Bear Drive-In opens in a few weeks.

“There has certainly been a resurgence. [During quarantine], it was an unfortunate introduction to something that a lot of people weren’t really aware of, ”he said.

“Tell mom! “

Weir’s announcement about the Bear Drive-In caused a frenzy on Facebook.

“I never understood why these went bankrupt !!!! Very excited!” wrote a Facebook user.

“Ooo, we’ll have to take a mini road trip upstate and goooooo,” said another.

“We absolutely have to go at the opening. I’ve never been there either, ”wrote one curious user.

“Omggg best friend date?” Someone said.

“Tell mom !!” wrote an enthusiastic user.

The New Castle County Land Use Department has approved permits for the Bear Drive-In which are valid until November 2.

When the Bear Drive-In debuts in a few weeks, it will be open Wednesday through Sunday until Labor Day. After Labor Day, it is open Thursday through Sunday. The site will end its season in November, Weir said.

The Bear Drive-In, he said, will offer typical movie theater concessions, including popcorn, soda, candy and snacks.

Andre Lamar is the reporting / lifestyle reporter. If you have an interesting story idea, email Andre Lamar at [email protected]

News Journal reporter Ryan Cormier contributed to this report.



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