Grab some popcorn

YMCA and MVFF launch a drive-in theater this summer.


A drive-in theater has come to the Island this summer, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival and the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard.

Movies are set to play four nights a week throughout July and August, in the parking lot behind the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena. Attendees will park their cars in a predetermined space, selected during ticket purchase. With spots for 40 to 50 vehicles available, the spacious lot will allow for appropriate social distancing.

Movie tickets will be available for purchase at the MVFF website, The drive-in will operate under a “pay-what-you-can” policy, meaning moviegoers can select the price of their tickets. “Our hope is that anybody can afford this, and if people can throw in extra, they will support that effort,” said MVFF programming director Brian Ditchfield.

Though everyone must remain inside their cars throughout drive-in events, the MVFF’s brand-new 30-foot screen will make movies visible from even the back row of parking spots. Movie audio will play through each vehicle’s individual radio via an FM transmitter. “Every car will have its own surround sound, so it’ll be a classic drive-in experience, but with some modern technology,” Ditchfield said.

For health and safety reasons, the summer drive-in will not be serving food to visitors. “We’re going to encourage people to get takeout from local restaurants and maybe bring that with them,” said YMCA executive director Jill Robie-Axtell. Bathrooms will be available inside the M.V. Ice Arena, and will be cleaned hourly in accordance with state guidelines.

Robie-Axtell hopes the drive-in will act as a source of solace to the Island: “We really wanted to figure out a way to take our two nonprofits, do the things that we usually do in the summer, and have it benefit not only us but the community.” Donations will aid the future efforts of the YMCA and the MVFF, as well as the Island Food Pantry and Vineyard House, who will each receive 10 percent of the drive-in’s income.

When it comes to movies, the drive-in boasts an exciting lineup. There are plans to show classics such as “Jaws,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and installments from the Harry Potter series throughout the summer. The drive-in will also show an assortment of films that delve into culturally relevant issues such as social justice.

“We really want this to be accessible to everyone,” Ditchfield said. “We’re going to show a lot of family-friendly programming and films for everyone, but we’re also going to address some of the issues of our day, and do what the Film Festival has done for so long, which is play documentaries that provoke discussion in the community.”