Once a symbol of a bygone era, the drive-in movie has come roaring back in the Central Valley spurred on by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, its ensuing shutdowns and subsequent desire for safe family outings. Now a local group is committed to bringing the concept to Los Banos and beyond. The Nightlight, a new mobile outdoor drive-in cinema and concert project, launches this weekend at the Los Banos Fairgrounds. Started by two cousins, one a valley native and one who spent his summers here growing up, the idea started when both saw their normal industries paused because of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We were reminiscing about early childhood movie marathon nights and we got an idea to get a drive-in together,” said Los Banos native Gia La Salvia, who is spearheading the project along with cousin Brian Perry.
Drive-in movies returned to Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties last month, with success and sold-out screenings. The Nightlight held an invitation-only preview at the fairgrounds last weekend, and opens it public slate this weekend Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13, with the beloved childhood movie “The Sandlot,” a 1993 coming-of-age classic about a group of friends who spend their summer playing baseball together. La Salvia works as a film producer in London, but when the coronavirus halted normal life and work, she returned to the region. Her cousin, Perry, works in construction in the Bay Area and also saw his work slow down. Together they have engineered a concept using shipping containers, available FM technology and the fairgrounds in Los Banos to recreate the classic drive-in experience.