Midway to utilize 150-acre East River site in Houston’s East End for drive-in movies

Midway’s 150-acre East End site slated for its future East River development will be put to use for a growing trend amid the Covid-19 pandemic: drive-in movies.

The Houston-based developer partnered with Houston-based Moonstruck to create Moonstruck Drive-In Cinema at East River. Moonstruck itself is a collaboration between Texas-based inflatable movies company Blue Moon Cinemas and Hockley’s Showboat Drive-In, the only permanent drive-in cinema in the greater Houston area.

Moonstruck Drive-In Cinema at East River will show movies projected on a 40-foot-by-80-foot structure made of shipping containers. Local food trucks and Historic Fifth Ward and East End establishments will provide food for purchase. Tickets start at $25 per car and will be available later this week at moonstruckdrivein.com.

Both tickets and food purchases will be no-contact, according to a press release. There will be portable restrooms on-site, and attendees are “encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing protocols,” the release states.

Unlike many temporary drive-ins that have popped up amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the East River site will show new releases, starting with Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” as part of a double feature with “Bill and Ted Face the Music” or “Inside Out” Sept. 4-7. The first movies will start at approximately 8:30 p.m., but the entrance at 100 Bringhurst St. opens at 7 p.m.

Additionally, Moonstruck and Midway plan to continue the East River drive-in “for many years to come,” Andrew Thomas, Moonstruck co-founder and Showboat owner, said in the release. Future plans include hosting drive-in concerts, showing classic films along with other new releases, and other experiences, he said.

“The East River site has been inaccessible to the public for generations, and we are thrilled to activate the space ahead of its decades-long development horizon,” Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden said in the release.

Midway bought 136 acres of its East River development in July 2016. The site used to belong to Houston-based KBR and is bordered by little over a mile of Buffalo Bayou.

Plans for phase one of the project’s infrastructure, including public and private utilities, are in final review with the city, as are plans for its parks and trails, the spokeswoman said.

“We decided last year to proceed with several infrastructure projects, to put Midway in a position to begin work immediately upon phase one approvals,” the spokeswoman said. “This included a new bulkhead along Buffalo Bayou from the existing bulkhead to the Jensen Street bridge, and a major storm sewer line along Jensen and Clinton (streets). In addition to serving part of East River, the new storm sewer will significantly reduce street flooding on the west end of Clinton Drive.”

The spokeswoman said building permits for phase one have been submitted and preleasing efforts are ongoing.

“As we continue to navigate Covid-19, we are confident the types of amenities offered at East River, including open green spaces, access to Buffalo Bayou Park hike and bike trails and outdoor dining options, will be in even greater demand as we move forward with this exciting and transformative new development,” the spokeswoman said.

By Olivia Pulsinelli - Houston Chronicle