The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted businesses all over the US. Some were forced to shut down, while others saw the crisis as an opportunity to grown and profit. Ayana and Siree Morris are in the second situation. As CNBC reported this week, the couple co-founded Black-owned drive-in movie theater Newark Moonlight Cinema, during the height of the pandemic in 2020.
And still, they thrived.
Despite the health crisis that swept the country, the New Jersey business owners had reasons to smile. The business hosted more than 20,000 cars during its first year. Now, it is time to expand, according to them.
Even though vaccinations have some people returning to their pre-Covid ways, the entrepreneurs are confident they still can thrive.
Screening classics and cult favorites with a focus on highlighting African American filmmakers and actors, Newark Moonlight Cinema is one of the few Black-owned theaters in the country.
“We’re able to allow our patrons to naturally social distance … you can be with the people that you’re already quarantining with, you feel comfortable with the people you live with,” Ayana Morris told CNBC. “You come down in your car, and you have a great experience watching a movie.”
The Morrises reveal that the next step is to add more films and branches, and to enhance the concessions of the Black-owned drive-in movie theater.
Moonlight Cinema operates Wednesday through Sunday until Oct. 31. The films are projected onto two 800-square-foot viewing screens that will play different movies simultaneously, with audio transmitted through each car’s radio.
Ayana Morris told CNBC she would like to see the drive-in movie theater experience “modernize” beyond Covid.
“I know that movie theaters are a thing, drive-ins are a thing,” she said. “I think a nice combo of indoor-outdoor experiences is the smart way to go in the 21st century.”
To learn more about the cinema or to see upcoming screenings and times, visit the website: newarkmoonlight.com.