Startup Guide for a Drive Through Theater Buildup

Covid-19 has brought huge financial loss to cinemas around the world, obviously, it is also the main reason why most cinemas were shut down, so how do people entertain themselves in Covid era? How to earn great profits from the cinema customers? In this share, we will show you some interesting facts about drive-through movie theaters, including how to build up a drive-through theater and few pieces of equipment needed such as a radio transmitter, antennas, etc.





Build Your Own Movie Theater? Here is What You NEED!


If we are in drive-in theater operator's shoes, it is quite necessary to have a full understanding of what to do and what we have before we initiate our start-up plan for a movie theater. For example, if you want to successfully operate a drive-in theater, then always ask yourself these questions:


  • How to build up my own theater?
  • How do I choose the best broadcast equipment?
  • How do I connect that equipment?
  • Who is selling the equipment package for the drive-in theater?
  • Etc.


Indeed, almost all countries are being affected by COVID-19, hundreds of thousands of cinemas were closed due to the covid-19 pandemic and local policies. However, in some countries such as Oman, the drive-through movie theatre has gained popularity among movie fans once again by offering a place for people to enjoy movie time in this new covid era. Well, this is also the best time if you would like to make profits by operating a drive-through movie theatre.


First off - locate a nice place for your theater


If you would like the best movie-watching experience for your customers (or learn positive feedback from them), it is very important to locate a nice place for drive-in movie theater buildup. A nice theater buildup location may help increase your income and of course, avoid many problems. Keep reading to learn more!


Next - build your own theater radio station


A radio broadcast station means almost everything to your drive-in theater (although location goes above all). There are two main reasons why a radio station is necessary:


  1. A radio station means a special place to broadcast movies audio to our customers, which is closely related to some needed radio station equipment such as FM radio transmitters. If we do not have a radio station for the drive-in movie theater, well, it is not even called a movie theater but only an exhibition for the visitors.
  2. As we mentioned above, some radio station equipment is needed, well, if we're looking for a considerable income increment by operating a drive-in theater, then why not have some high-quality broadcast equipment over those trash ones? Every single successful owner of a drive-through theater knows that to have the audio of the best quality display from the car radio, high-quality radio station equipment such as FM radio transmitter, radio broadcast antennas, and antenna accessories are needed. 


High-quality broadcast equipment usually means better quality in the audio display, but more expensive in cost, and that's why most buyers come for FMUSER to buy radio station equipment for their drive-in theater, all FMUSER creations are of high quality and low cost, contact our RF experts if you are in need of any of that equipment.


Extra share: Do you know how an FM transmitter works?


The audio signal is transmitted from the DVD player or PC to the FM broadcast transmitter, and it is converted into an RF signal in the FM transmitter and then transmitted through the antenna. The antenna of the car radio will receive the RF signal. Finally, the radio will convert the RF signal into an audio signal and emit sound.


Plus - don't forget the projection equipment

We need to buy projection equipment for a drive-in movie theater, including:


  • Video Projector
  • Screen
  • Other Needed Accessories


Extra share: Do you know how a projector works?


The projector receives the image signal from the DVD player or PC, converts it into light, and decomposes it into the light of red, green and blue. By combining the three kinds of light, the pictures are synthesized and projected on the screen. 


Last but not least - learn from your competitors


Last but not least - know what you need and what to do


Advice from FMUSER: always stay clear if you are planning on drive-in the theater business. It is important to locate your goals, in order for that, 3 steps are needed to be taken:


Step 1. Know who we are serving for


It determines the business model of the drive-through theater, for example, if most of our goal customers are businessmen with kids, our theater theme may be designed with fresh colors, cartoons may be the most popular daily offered series, and every decor may be like Disney style. So, have investigations of movie interest in the neighborhood area before other buildup plans.


Step 2. Know our competitors


Only by knowing yourself and your competitors can you stand out in the competition. You need to know how many competitors there are near you; How your competitors operate their drive-in theaters; What advantages you have over your competitors, etc.


Step 3. Know how to make profits


You need to know what constitutes the revenue of the drive-through theater. Timely adjusting your pricing strategy may enable you to gain a competitive advantage in price.


To draw a conclusion, these are the facts you need to know if you're ready-steady to operate a drive-in theater. Always remember the risks in doing business and make sure to have a clearer understanding of the drive-through theater industry that may help you better do business in drive-in broadcasting services. 


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How to Choose the Land and the Best Equipment for Drive-in Movie Theater?

After the direction is clear, you can start to buy radio station equipment for your drive-through movie theatre. But many operators will face the question, what kind of equipment is the best? Don't worry, the answer is in the following.


It is important to select a piece of suitable land

This land is where your car theater is located. If you need a drive-in theater that can accommodate 500 cars, you need 10-14 acres of land. However, we suggest that you start with a piece of land that can accommodate 50 vehicles, which can help you accumulate experience at a lower cost. At the same time, the piece of land shall meet the following conditions:


  • Fewer obstacles are better - there should not be too many obstacles around, or the audio transmission quality will be affected. You can try to find such a piece of land in the countryside because there are few buildings there, and its rent is often much cheaper than that in the city, which can save a lot of costs for you.

  • Temporary buildings are allowed - Temporary buildings are allowed nearby. For example, a container room can be built to facilitate your daily office and collection.

  • The local weather is stable - Avoid strong wind at this place, because the strong wind will damage the screen.

  • Rivers will cause you trouble - If there are rivers nearby, which means there will be a lot of mosquitos, affecting people's viewing experience; At the same time, it is easy to have safety problems for families with children. These will have a great impact on your operation of the drive-in theater.

  • Reduce the time spent on the way - The drive-in theater should be within 15-20 minutes from the town because everyone doesn't want to spend too long on the way.

  • It's better if there are street lights nearby - If your drive-in theater is located in a completely dark place, you need to spend a lot of money on lighting; If there are street lights nearby, you can save a lot of the cost.

  • Is the land just for parking? - In fact, the ticket revenue only accounts for a small part of the profit in drive-through theaters, because it is a way to attract people's traffic. And the ticket price should not be set too high. Most of the other profits come from concession stands, which can sell snacks and board games, especially for families with children. Therefore, you also need to set up some concession stands. It can not only help you bring more profits, but also help you form the characteristics of drive-through movie theater and attract more people to watch movies here.


A good land can provide people with a great viewing experience and reduce the pressure and difficulty of your operation. Therefore, spend more time on finding the land, which can help you reduce a lot of trouble in the future.


Choose the radio station equipment for drive-in theater
  • FM radio transmitter - The FM radio transmitter is used to convert the audio signal into an RF signal, and transmit it to the FM antenna, and the FM antenna transmits the RF signal. Therefore, for the FM broadcast transmitter, the audio parameters are particularly important. We can know the audio transmission performance of the FM transmitter from the following audio parameters:


    • High SNR is helpful - It represents the signal-to-noise ratio, which refers to the ratio of signal power to the noise power in the sound transmitted by the FM radio transmitter. If the FM radio transmitter with high SNR is used in the drive-in theater, the noise in the output sound will be less. For an FM transmitter, SNR should be higher than 40dB.

    • You need a low Distortion - It means that when the transmitter converts the audio signal, a part of the original signal changes. The higher the distortion rate, the greater the noise in the output sound. For FM radio transmitters, the distortion should not be higher than 1%. With such an FM transmitter, it is difficult for audiences to hear the noise in the output sound.

    • High Stereo Separation is always better - Stereo is a combination of left and right channels. Stereo separation is a parameter to measure the degree of separation of the two channels. The higher the stereo separation, the better the stereo effect. For an FM broadcast transmitter, stereo separation higher than 40dB is acceptable. FMUSER is a professional FM radio broadcast equipment manufacturer. We provide low-power FM transmitters with high stereo separation, which can reach 55dB. Using such FM stereo transmitters for drive-through movie theaters can give audiences a stereo experience like in the cinema. Learn more>>

    • Wide and stable Frequency Response is not bad - Frequency response refers to the audio frequency range that an FM transmitter can receive. This parameter is composed of two values, the former represents the frequency range, and the latter stands for the amplitude of the sound change. For the FM radio transmitter, the frequency response range should wider than 50Hz-15KHz, and the range of change should be less than 3dB. Such an FM radio transmitter can transmit a stable audio signal, and the audiences don't need to adjust the volume from time to time.


In a word, we need an FM transmitter with SNR higher than 40dB, distortion lower than 1%, stereo separation higher than 40dB, and a wide and stable frequency response for the drive-in theater.


  • FM antenna - the FM antenna is a component used to transmit the RF signal. Therefore, the antenna must be compatible with the transmitter in order to make the FM broadcast transmitter and FM antenna work normally. Therefore, you need to focus on these parameters of the FM antenna: The maximum input power, Frequency and VSWR, and Directionality.


    • The maximum input power should be sufficient - When selecting the FM antenna, you need to note that the maximum input power should exceed the power of the FM broadcast transmitter. Otherwise, the FM antenna will not work properly and the drive-in movie theater can't be operated.

    • You need a proper Frequency - The frequency of the FM antenna should cover the FM transmitter, or the signal can't be radiated and the FM transmitter will break down. And your maintenance cost will increase greatly.

    • A low VSWR is better - VSWR reflects the work efficiency of the FM antenna. In general, VSWR is acceptable if it is lower than 1.5. Too high VSWR will cause the FM transmitter to break down, increasing the maintenance cost of the operator.

    • Directionality - FM antennas are divided into two types: omnidirectional and directional. It determines which direction the radiation is most concentrated. For an omnidirectional FM antenna, it radiates equally in all directions. The type of antenna should be based on the place that the FM transmitter locates in the drive-in movie theatre.


All in all, we should apply an FM antenna with sufficient maximum input power, a proper frequency, a VSWR less than 1.5, and appropriate directionality to drive through the movie.


Choose the projection equipment for the drive-in theater

  • Projector - The projector plays the role of playing movie pictures. The kind of the projector depends on the type of movie you need to play. For example, if you want to play old movies, you need to buy a 3.5mm projector. If you want to play some new movies, you have to buy a projector that supports high-resolution to play a clear picture.


  • Screen - What kind of screen to buy depends on many factors


    • Size of the parking lot - If the parking lot is very large, you need to buy a particularly large screen, or multiple large screens so that all of the audience can see the film. For a drive-through movie theater accommadating 500 cars, two 16mx8m screens may be required.

    • Local climate - The local climate puts forward requirements for the protective performance of the screen. For example, in coastal areas with frequent wind, the screen needs to have good wind resistance to reduce the damage to the screen.


Only with the best equipment can your drive-through movie theater provide a good viewing experience for the audience, so that your theater can operate for a long time.


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How to install the equipment properly?

It's time to build your own car theater with these pieces of equipment. It's exciting, isn't it? However, you still need to calm down first, because there are some things that need to note during the installation process.


During installation, the most important part is the connection of radio station equipment. First of all, you need to choose a place to install a radio tower in the car theater, so that the RF signal can cover the whole car theater as much as possible.


The remaining steps are very simple. Just place the FM transmitter on the radio tower, fix the FM antenna on the radio tower, and then connect the FM radio transmitter and FM antenna with cables. When playing a movie, connect the power supply, connect the computer or DVD player with the audio interface on the FM transmitter, and set up the FM radio transmitter to transmit the sound to the audience. However, there are some points to note:


  1. First connect the FM antenna with the FM broadcast transmitter well, or the FM transmitter will be broken down and your maintenance cost will increase.

  2. The interfaces of the FM radio transmitters connected to the cables should be kept dry and waterproof.

  3. Confirm that the frequency of the FM antenna matches the transmitting frequency of the FM transmitter.

  4. The FM radio transmitter should be away from the ground at least 3 meters, and there are no barriers within 5 meters of the surrounding environment.

  5. Lightning protection measures should be taken for the radio transmitter tower to avoid damage to the FM antenna and the FM broadcast transmitter.

  6. The FM antenna must be firmly fixed on the radio transmitter tower.


The connection of the projection equipment is also very simple. You only need to connect the computer or DVD player with the video interface on the projector and set up the computer or DVD player, then you can start playing the movie pictures.


If there is any problem in building your drive-in theater, please contact us and we will assist you through remote installation guidance.



Where to Buy The Equipment for Drive Through Movie Theatre?

Now you are only one reliable equipment supplier away from operating your own drive-in theater. A reliable supplier can not only provide you with equipment with excellent performance and high-cost performance, but also provide you with professional solutions and guidance to reduce your cost of purchasing and maintaining products.


FMUSER is such a reliable supplier. It is the best radio station equipment supplier in China. It can provide you with a complete package of equipment for drive-in movie theaters, including a radio broadcast equipment package for drive-in theaters for sale and a projection equipment package for drive-in theaters for sale. And they are affordable for those with a limited budget. Let's see the comment from a loyal customer of FMUSER.


"FMUSER really helped me a lot. I faced difficulties in building a low-power radio station for a drive-in movie theater, so I asked FMUSER for help. They quickly replied to me and make a complete solution for me at a really affordable price. For a long time to come, even in hot and humid areas like Indonesia, there was no machine failure problem. FMUSER is really reliable." 


——Vimal, a loyal customer of FMUSER


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What licenses are required to operate a drive-in theater?

Generally speaking, you need to apply for a private radio license and a license to show movies, otherwise, you may face huge fines due to copyright problems. If you set up some concession stands, you may need to apply for a business license to sell the corresponding products.


What are the advantages of drive through theater?

The drive-through theater can give the audiences a space to be alone with their family and friends, and enjoy the time of watching movies together without being disturbed by the voice of others. At the same time, during the pandemic, the independent and private space keeping a certain social distance between the audience and others ensures health and safety.


How much power FM radio transmitter is suitable for drive in movie theater?

The power of the FM radio transmitter depends on the size of your drive-in movie theater. For example, if you want to operate a drive-in theater accommodating 500 cars, you may need a 50W FM broadcast transmitter, such as FMT5.0-50H and FU-50B from FMUSER.


How much does it cost to start a drive-in theater?

If you want to start a 10-14 acres drive-in theater, it may cost about 50000 dollars to prepare all the most basic equipment, that is, a set of radio broadcast equipment for transmitting sound, a set of film projection equipment, and other necessary accessories.


Who are the target market of drive through theater?

The target of drive-through theater covers all ages. But you can focus on those who like old movies. Because the drive-through theatre was the most popular in the 1950s and 1960s, audiences living at that time will prefer to watch movies in the drive-through theaters. Therefore, they will be the main target market for you.


What equipment is needed in drive-in theater?

To operate a drive-in theater requires a piece of land large enough, a DVD player or a computer, an FM broadcast transmitter, an FM antenna, a projector, a screen, and other needed accessories. These are the basic required equipment.


How to choose the best equipment for drive through theater?

When buying the equipment for drive-through theater, you need to note that:


  • FM radio transmitters with SNR greater than 40dB, distortion less than 1%, stereo separation greater than 40dB, wide and stable frequency response;

  • FM antennas with the frequency range to be selected can cover the working frequency of the transmitter, the directivity is suitable, the VSWR is less than 1.5, and the maximum input power is high enough;

  • Projectors and screens are selected based on the practical situation.


How to install these pieces of equipment properly?

This step is required for both broadcasting equipment and projection equipment: Connect the computer or DVD player to the audio interface on the FM broadcast transmitter and the video interface on the projector, and then set up the FM transmitter, the computer, or DVD player.

And something must be noted is that:

  • The first step is always to connect the FM antenna with the FM radio transmitter well;

  • Confirm that the frequency of the FM antenna matches the transmission frequency of the FM radio transmitter;

  • The FM radio transmitter should be at least 3M away from the ground and there shall be no obstacles within 5m around;

  • Waterproof and lightning protection measures shall be taken for the radio tower and the interfaces of the equipment.



We hope this share on how to build your own car theater is really helpful to you. It may not be able to cover all aspects of a drive-in movie theaters. FMUSER is one of the best radio station equipment suppliers. We have a complete range of radio broadcast equipment for the drive-in theaters. Therefore, if you have any questions about drive-through movie theatres, or you want to buy the complete radio broadcast equipment package for drive-in theaters and the complete screening equipment package for drive-in theaters, please feel free to contact us, we are always hearing!


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