Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback across the country—except in Maryland.

With movie theaters closed around the country, drive-in movie theaters have been roaring back into operation—except in Maryland. Bengies, the only drive-in theater left in the State of Maryland, has been unable to open for the season due to a tax glitch. In operation since 1956, the Middle River drive-in boasts of having the largest theater screen in the country. Bengies normally opens in late spring but has not been able to reopen for the season because it is listed in the same tax classification as an indoor theater. Maryland is currently in phase one of the reopening and theaters are not slated to be reopened until at least stage three. 

The owner of Bengies, D. Vogel, doesn’t understand why the state won’t allow the theater to open when other drive-ins in the nation have been permitted to open. He claims if he doesn’t get the okay to open soon, the theater may have to close for good. Vogel has established a safety plan that includes leaving every other parking pace empty to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The general design of drive-ins makes them one of the only acceptable options for seeing a movie in the age of coronavirus.

movie popcorn

Image courtesy Adobe Stock

Drive-in movie theaters became popular in the late '50s and early '60s, especially among families with small children. They were much cheaper to build and were sometimes the only option for people in rural towns. Visitors could just stuff as many people as they wanted into the car, catch a double feature, and fill up on popcorn and hot dogs at the snack bar, without spending a lot of money. 

Vogel has reached out to county and state officials to try and get clearance to reopen, but so far he has come up empty. 

What do you think? Do you know of a way to help Vogel get the clearance he needs? Got an inside connection? Leave a comment and let us know!