UPDATE: In order to complete construction, the opening has been pushed back one week to Oct. 28.
ORIGINAL STORY: Coyote Drive-In, Denton County’s first drive-in theater since the 1980s, will open Oct. 21.
The theater, located on the southeast corner of Midway and Holfords Prairie roads, has been in the works since January 2015. It was scheduled to open in July, but rain delayed construction.
The five-screen theater, which will expand to six next year, is centered around a 10,000 square foot pavilion that serves as a full-service bar and restaurant. The theater will host double-features of first-run movies for $7. The pavilion boasts pizza made from scratch on-site, burgers, all the usual movie theater concessions, a cotton candy machine and a snow cone machine. Crews are building a fenced-in playground near the pavilion for children. The complex will also serve as a live music venue.
The movies themselves will be digitally projected from as far as 650 feet away onto 36-by-75-foot theater screens raised 20 feet off the ground. The screens have been wrapped in a special reflective surface that will help the light scatter more. Coyote Chief Operating Officer Steve Winn said the result would be images as bright as a controlled indoor theater.
“I think people will find it’s the brightest image they’ve seen on a drive-in ever,” he said.
Winn also said the theater will screen local sports events for free. Depending on demand, it could be Cowboys games or local school games, or something else entirely, he said.
The new Coyote Drive-In will be the first outdoor theater in Denton County since Rancho Drive-In in northern Denton closed in 1982. According to Time Magazine, there were as many as 4,000 drive-in theaters during their height in the 1950s, but around 400 remain as of 2008. They were unable to compete with indoor theaters that housed several screens and could start playing before dusk.
Coyote Drive-In CEO Glenn Solomon, a third-generation theater executive, experienced this firsthand when his father’s chain of drive-ins slowly shut down over the course of the 1970s. He said he was excited to bring them back.
“It’s very exciting to continue on the family business,” he said. “It also makes me have great respect for how much effort it must have taken to build 100 of them.”
The new Coyote will be the company’s third multi-screen drive-in and second in DFW, all of which have been built since 2011. The nearest drive-in before that, the Galaxy in Ennis, was also built after the turn of the century.
Lewisville approved $306,500 in incentives and waivers for the outdoor theater complex earlier this year. At the time, City Council said it was worth it to find someone to develop the 35 acre plot of land, and that the drive-in would allow the city to use it as a parking lot for certain events.
Excitement for the Lewisville location is palpable even at the highest levels. City council member Brandon Jones said he remembers going to drive-ins as a child in the 1970s and falling asleep in his father’s Oldsmobile. Jones said he sometimes attends the Galaxy with his wife, and he’s excited to see drive-ins making a comeback in Lewisville.
“It’s kind of a reverse cycle,” he said. “The ones I went to, they were raggedy. They were already kind of ratty. The new ones are really nice.”
Coyote will employ 100 people full-time and is hosting a job fair this weekend, 2-7 p.m. Oct. 7 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Holiday Inn Plano, 4301 Paige Road in The Colony. Applications are available at http://coyotedrive-in.com/lewisville/.