Pop-up drive-in movie devised by USD student is coming to Lake Lorraine

June 25, 2020

University of South Dakota sophomore marketing student Drew Peterson has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Since he was 12, he has run his own one-man lawn-mowing business during the summers, saving up money for the day he could aim bigger. 

That day has come, as his pop-up drive-in movie concept, the All-American Drive-In, debuts Friday at Lake Lorraine. 

The All-American Drive-In will take place Friday through Sunday in the parking lot of the building south of Hobby Lobby — the usual site of the weekly Lake Lorraine Farmers Market.

Two showings of the movie “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” will happen each night at 9 and 11:15 p.m. The movie’s sound will be transmitted to viewers’ car radios via an FM transmitter, and concessions can be purchased from The Big Orange Food Truck and Karma’s Korn, and delivered to cars.

Peterson, a Watertown native, had been looking for a way to focus his urge to start a business toward something more fun than utilitarian. The COVID-19 pandemic actually allowed him the time to consider what this venture could look like while he was bored and stuck at home.

“I’ve definitely saved up some capital because I’ve always known in my gut that I’ve wanted to do a business venture,” he said.

“I’ve been waiting for (the right) timing and an idea that’s worth betting on. I guess having all the time just in the house really kind of changed my mind-set on that. I’m also a very social person and having that shutdown made my extroversion so pent up that I needed to make a drive-in. I needed to be planning a drive-in to be OK with sitting in my house for that long.”

Among Peterson’s many interests is the business side of show business, especially in stand-up comedy, podcasts and movies. With the pandemic eliminating many entertainment options, he focused on how to substitute a typical summer tradition with a safe, socially distanced alternative.

The answer? A retro way to take in a Hollywood flick: the drive-in movie. 

Using money saved up from his lawn-mowing business, Peterson approached Lake Lorraine developers about bringing the drive-in to the property. To provide the projection equipment, Peterson partnered with FunFlicks, an outdoor movie rental company that will set up an inflatable 26-by-20-foot screen and 4K digital movie projector.

In addition to his personal enjoyment of “Anchorman,” Peterson said he chose the Will Ferrell-headlined comedy to go along with the brand of “modernized retro” that he hopes to convey with the drive-in. 

If this weekend’s trial run is successful, Peterson will move forward with marketing the drive-in around Sioux Falls and other surrounding towns. But regardless of whether it’s a financial success, he said he will count it as a win for his future, gaining valuable entrepreneurial experience in a field he hopes to one day pursue.

“Going forward in my career, I don’t want to be selling anything that really could negatively affect anybody at any point,” he said. “So like things that are super-high stakes, like for example, I’ve done pretty well in anatomy and different biology classes and all my aptitude tests said that I would be good in the medical field, but ultimately I don’t want to have that pressure on my head where I’m responsible for somebody’s life as much as the quality of their popcorn.”

With movie theaters around the country empty for the past three months, Peterson hopes the drive-in brings a sense of normalcy and summer fun to local residents.

“(I hope it’s) a night that actually feels comfortable, feels American and not so fearful.”

Tickets for the All-American Drive-In can be purchased at the event. They cost $10 for those 12 and older, $5 for age 6-11 and free for those 5 and younger. For information, visit Lake Lorraine’s Facebook page.

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Pop-up drive-in movie devised by USD student is coming to Lake Lorraine

What’s old is new again: A drive-in movie business run by a USD student is about to debut.

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