For Your Consideration
The Lovecraft Country Drive-In: An Immersive Screening Experience
In early 2020, we set out to celebrate Misha Green’s highly anticipated HBO series Lovecraft Country with in-person experiences, but when the pandemic hit, we had to shift gears.
Despite the challenges, we created a series finale experience in LA in October 2020 modeled after the journey taken by the show’s characters: a safe-yet-fully immersive drive-in theatre that directly transported guests into the culture-shattering series. As they drove in, they were left wondering if they would ever drive out.
More than 500 guests entered the experience and were transported to the series’ 1950s era. Once a quarter mile away from the entrance, guests began to see our seven roadside billboards featuring ads for faux businesses inspired by the show. These ranged from “Folk Cola'' (a beverage they’d later be served) to the Lovecraft Country Tourism Bureau. Among them were billboards for our real radio frequency. From then on, and throughout the entire experience, guests tuned into Lovecraft Country FM: a radio station we created (scripted, casted, recorded, mixed, and broadcast) that featured 160 minutes of original content, such as ’50s tunes, faux ads with subtle warnings, in-world safety PSAs, and smooth talking DJ Moonlight.
The arrival process was completely contactless. We implemented never-before-seen methods that promoted both health and safety using modern technologies masked to feel of-the-era. Guests pulled up to an intercom, where they were checked-in by remote actors improvising from an in-world script, and were admitted through remotely operated gates custom-made for the experience. Window washers from Lovecraft Auto cleaned their windshields and an in-era photographer snapped a photo safely from outside each car.
Guests then pulled up to concession kiosks at their assigned row. Despite appearing abandoned, they found a car-height shelf where they could contactlessly pick up a customized 50s metal lunch box filled with on-theme snacks, drinks, and goodies sourced from Black-owned businesses. In fact, BIPOC-owned businesses made up nearly half of our overall production budget.
At their designated parking spots, guests’ immersion in the world continued: Lovecraft Country FM played over car radios as custom illustrated pre-show advertisements were projected on the 170-foot wide drive-in screen. They saw COVID-safety reminders to wear masks and stay inside their cars – relayed from our fictional organization, the "Lovecraft Country Safety Commission” – and pre-screening advertisements for the in-world brands and companies featured on the radio station and roadside billboards.
The show didn’t stop when the credits rolled. Lovecraft FM again took over radios with a brand new block of content. Driving out, guests passed by a roadside group of spell-casting actors in the midst of a mysterious “protection spell” ritual, mirroring events from the series finale. Guests found a digital takeaway captured by the in-era photographer during arrival at the top of their email inboxes (though staff had never asked for an email address) and a week later, we mailed them a telegram and photo postcard as physical mementos of their journey.
The event was nearly a year in the making. With some touting our experience as “magical” (Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions) and “a highlight of 2020,” we’re honored to have closed the curtain on the first season of an acclaimed series – and that our 500-plus guests drove out safe and sound.