Newark, New Jersey natives Siree and Ayanna Morris made history last month when they opened the states first Black-owned drive-in movie theater.
The couple, whose been together for 15 years, combined their professional experiences in real estate and film-making to make their vision come to life.
The emergence of the couples drive-in theater comes at an essential time where social distancing is extremely important due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement exposes the importance of black culture within the arts.
During a press conference, Ayana spoke on the planning period before her and her husbands idea came into fruition. “I’ve been wanting to open up a movie theater of my own for some years now, my husband and I have talked extensively about it, and done a lot of research,” Ayana said in a press release last month. “We were trying to find out how to make that happen, so when I saw this I knew it was a great opportunity for me to capitalize on and remix a goal of mine. It’s not a traditional movie theater, but it’s very close to it, so I’m excited about that.”
The theater, located where the former Newark Bears baseball stadium once resided, allows customers to choose from a variety of food and snacks, and has a block party-like atmosphere where the patrons can listen to old school hip hop and R&B, and get some barbecue during the experience.
The films, which can be heard from from your car radio, has featured films like “Girls Trip,” “Creed 2,” and “Just Mercy”, which are created by black film makers and stars black actors.
“We see a lot of [drive-in theaters] are playing ‘Jaws’ and ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ and we love those films, we’ve probably all seen them a million times by now, but those are not films that appeal to my demographic and the community that I serve,” Ayana said.
The couple says that they were able to launch their theater after only 3 months of planning. The theater is slated to remain open until early October. The lot opens at 7pm and the films begin at 9pm. For showings and more information, you can visit Newarkmoonlight.com