Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
This season's Christmas In July feature at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater seems to be a topic of debate every year during the holiday season, with people arguing that Die Hard either is, or is not, a Christmas movie. I was a hard no on this issue, but I've come around to accept that it is a Christmas movie. It just isn't a Christmas/Comedy or Christmas/Family film as most of the classics tend to be, but there are other genres of holiday films. For example, Gremlins is a Horror/Christmas movie, and Die Hard is an Action/Christmas movie.
The Mahoning are scheduling vendor markets on a select number of Sundays on their calendar. I'm not opposed to the idea here. The Halfway To Halloween market on opening weekend before Freaked was a lot of fun, and the Retro Toy Market before Pee Wee's Big Adventure last month was even better. However, I think the way that these are handled leaves some room for improvement.
There are two issues I have with these. First, unlike the flea markets at the other drive-in theaters that I've been to, the vendor markets at the Mahoning are tied to the movies. Potential shoppers don't have access to any of the vendors unless they purchase a ticket to see the movie. Right off the bat, they're eliminating any potential buyers who like to go to flea markets on a Sunday morning, but who might not necessarily have the time or interest to stay the night to see the movie.
The bigger issue for me personally is fact that they open the gates at 3:00 pm for a 9:00 pm showtime, which means that even if you don't really feel like going to the vendor market, we pretty much have to if we want to get our spot in the front row for the movie. That wasn't too bad for the Halfway To Halloween market because it was the last weekend in April and the weather was still cool, and it wasn't as noticeable for Retro Toy Market because there were a ton of vendors who had some pretty cool things for sale. Unfortunately, neither of those things were true for yesterday's Christmas In July market before Die Hard.
First of all, as much as I like the idea of celebrating Christmas In July at the drive-in, I'm not exactly looking to buy holiday decorations this time of year. However even if I was, there were only three vendors on the lot. It was also about 90 degrees with no clouds and no shade, so you're stuck there under the hot sun for over six hours before the start of the movie. If it wasn't for the fact that our friends were there and that we all had umbrellas to block out the sun, this would have been a pretty miserable experience.
I'm hoping that maybe next year, they shift things up a little bit by having the vendor markets available to the public earlier in the day - maybe from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Then, any vendors who want to stick around for the next three hours before the start of the film would be welcome to stay. Three hours is more than enough time to sell merchandise to the fans, especially if they're open to the general public prior to the Mahoning ticket holders showing up. It's just an idea, but as a regular on the lot, I can say that if I'm on the fence about a movie that's showing on a Sunday in the middle of the summer, the announcement of a vendors market would be enough to sway me to stay home that night.
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Despite suffering from a bit of heat exhaustion before showtime, it was still a great night on the lot. We got to hang out with our friends for a while, and I got to check another 80's classic off of my bucket list. Die Hard premiered in theaters just a couple of weeks after my 8th birthday, and my grandfather flat out refused to ever take me to a movie that was Rated R, so I never got to see it in theaters. As always, the Mahoning brought a classic to life on the big screen from an original 35mm print.