Disney’s “Cruella” opens May 28 and is slated to play Maine theaters, including drive-ins. Photo by Laurie Sparham

It’s spring in Maine – finally – which this year means, it’s time to get out and see some movies.

Last year, when so many indoor theaters were closed because of COVID-19, drive-ins and other outdoor film venues were the only option for people to see movies on the big screen. But, also because of the pandemic, Hollywood wasn’t releasing new material, so drive-ins showed mostly old favorites.

Now, southern Maine’s drive-ins and fresh-air movie venues have reopened for the season – many in the past month or so – and several will be playing brand-new films. The highly-anticipated horror sequel “A Quiet Place Part II” and Disney’s live-action “Cruella” with Emma Stone are both opening Memorial Day weekend, including at Maine drive-ins.

There’s more good news right now for Maine movie fans. Several indoor theaters that have been shuttered for months are reopening in May, and a new outdoor movie venue is opening too. Here is a look at Maine’s movie happenings for the spring and summer.

The Saco Drive-In is open now for the season. Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

NOT JUST A DRIVE-BY

Most of Southern Maine’s drive-ins have been open for at least a couple weeks. They’re still enforcing state COVID-19 safety requirements, like social distancing and masks when you can’t stay six feet from someone, but the state is lifting those restrictions on May 24. Some are only open on weekends and admission prices may vary, so call or check their websites before heading out.

The Saco Drive-In Theater on Route 1, which dates back to 1939, opened for the season May 14 with “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The film was released in late March and stars two classic monsters. At press time, the theater was still waiting on confirmation for what it will show Friday and Saturday, but management said it would likely be “Wrath of Man,” an action thriller starring Jason Statham and released on May 7. On Memorial Day weekend, the theater is tentatively planning to show “Cruella.” For more information go to thesacodrivein.com.

The Bridgton Twin Drive-In, on Route 302, opened in April this year. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday the drive-in will be showing the 2011 monster thriller “Super 8” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation” from 1983. On Memorial Day weekend, the drive-in is planning to show both “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Cruella.” After May 27, the drive-in will be open every night through the summer. For more information, go to the Bridgton Twin Drive-In Theatre Facebook page. 

Pride’s Corner Drive-In, on Route 302 in Westbrook, opened in mid-May and has some big-screen rock concerts screening this year, along with movies. On Saturday, there’s a Bon Jovi concert scheduled to play, and on June 12, drive-in fans can see a show by country band Florida Georgia Line with Nelly and Chase Rice. Wednesday through Friday, the drive-in was slated to show the martial arts fantasy film “Mortal Kombat,” which came out in April. For more information and upcoming films, go to the Prides Corner Drive-In Facebook page. 

The Narrow Gauge Drive-In in Farmington opened in April. Upcoming films for the drive-in weren’t available. The adjacent Narrow Gauge Cinemas is also open. For information and films at both, go to narrowgaugecinema.net.

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre in Arundel will be hosting socially-distant a “Kids Take Over the Barn” movie series this year as well as drive-in movies on its property. Photo courtesy of Vinegar Hill Music Theatre

ON THE HILL, IN THE BARN

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre in Arundel was closed last year, like so many music venues. This year it’s reopening for concerts and has added the Drive Up Movies series in the parking lot. Movies will be shown on a 20-foot screen that attaches to the venue’s outdoor covered stage, and there’s room for 70 cars. The first film at the new drive-in – “Wonder Woman 1984,” which came out last year – will be shown on May 28. “Andre,” a 1994 film about Maine’s most famous seal, will be screened June 17. It’s the story of a a real-life seal from Rockport, beloved by townsfolk, but was filmed mostly in Canada. The 1999 film “Message in Bottle,” starring Kevin Costner and shot around Phippsburg, will be shown June 23.

The theater is also hosting a movie series called Kids Take Over the Barn, featuring family-friendly movies. As of last week, the plan was to require groups to spread out at least six feet apart and people to wear masks when outside their designated group or not eating or drinking. The first family movie will be the classic “E.T.” on June 24. “Hook,” starring Robin Williams, will play on July 1. Tickets are $4 to $7. For more information on Vinegar Hill’s drive up and kids movie series, go to vinegarhillmusictheatre.com.

Nickelodeon Cinemas re-opened briefly last summer and fall, then closed and is re-opening again in late May. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

IN THE NICK OF TIME

Greater Portland’s indoor movie scene took a big hit in February when the New Hampshire-based Cinemagic chain – which ran large theaters in Westbrook, Saco and South Portland – closed permanently. Some of the other movie theaters in the area that closed temporarily during the pandemic are now planning to open up again this month, and as of last week, planned to follow the state’s guidelines for masks, social distancing and indoor capacities.

One of those is Nickelodeon Cinemas in downtown Portland, planning a May 27 opening that will likely include “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Cruella” as well as another just-released film, “Dream Horse,” a comedy-drama starring Toni Collette. General manager David Scott said the theater is also bringing back its popular $5 Super Tuesdays. For more information, go to patriotcinemas.com.

Another Maine theater slated to reopen is the Flagship Cinemas location in Thomaston, on Friday. Most of the state’s other Flagship locations are open, except for the Wells and Oxford theaters. The national Regal theater chain was slated to open its two Maine locations this month, Regal Augusta last week and Regal Brunswick on Friday.

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