Reopen News: Tribeca Drive-In replaces Tribeca Film Festival amid coronavirus pandemic

TRIBECA, Manhattan (WABC) -- Like so many other events in New York City and around the world, this year's Tribeca Film Festival had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But organizers were determined to give movie fans some type of event to enjoy, and the Tribeca Drive-In is the result.

It's a nationwide series that happens Thursday at Nickerson and Orchard beaches and is part of a comeback of sorts for a type of theater that was almost extinct.

Folks are finding new uses for old places, and though there were once thousands of drive-ins, just a few hundred survive now. But in this era, when social distancing has become so important, drive-ins are having a resurgence.

A Tribeca Drive-in was held across the country from the Tribeca Film Festival's home in Lower Manhattan last week, putting "Jaws" on the big screen at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

"This is looking legit," said Sean Sekino, who was wearing a mask and came with two carloads of friends. "With the food trucks, yeah, it just seems like a fun time."

Related: Walmart turning 160 parking lots into drive-in movie theaters

Jane Rosenthal co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival with partner Robert De Niro to help the neighborhood in Lower Manhattan recover after 9/11.

"It's just a little something we can do to give back to our community," she said. "Because Downtown Manhattan has always been venue constricted, we didn't have large movie theaters or large venues downtown."

So outdoor showings were part of the event from the very beginning.

Related: Nassau Coliseum to launch drive-in movie weekends this summer

The showing at Orchard Beach is free.

"Because it was, in fact, that part of the Bronx and that area there that was was the hardest hit," Rosenthal's friend Paula Weinstein said. "Between the virus and the workers, the essential workers."

Weinstein, a veteran executive and producer, went to her first drive-in when she was 8 years old. Rosenthal was 6.

Neither women has ever forgotten the experience.

"The movies have always been magic to me, from the time I was a little girl," Rosenthal said. "Which is why I wanted to be involved with them."

Related: Yankee Stadium to host drive-in events in Bronx

It is also why she is so determined to give others the same experience.

CLICK HERE for more details on the Tribeca Drive-In.

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