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Empire Drive In-Queens-Hall of Science-Jeff Stark-Todd Chandler-NYC

Empire Drive-In, a full-scale outdoor movie theatre made from reclaimed materials, including cars salvaged from a Brooklyn junk yard, opened this past Friday night at the New York Hall of Science. The installation, created by Brooklyn artists Jeff Stark and Todd Chandler, includes a 40-foot screen, 60 junked cars for seating, and a variety of programming through October.

Empire Drive In-Queens-Hall of Science-Jeff Stark-Todd Chandler-NYC-2Empire Drive-In has a fully operational concession stand

Opening night was a full house, with movie goers finding seats in the cars, on the cars, and sprawled out on blankets around the lot. The opening night show began with a classic Road Runner cartoon and, followed appropriately, by a Wiley Coyote animation followed, appropriately, by a compilation of real life “fail” videos, a nod to one of the night’s performers, Greg Saunier of Deerhoof, who expressed his love of the genre to Stark and Chandler. An orchestra composed entirely of Casio keyboards then took the stage and provided scores to two classic silent slapstick films, Sauiner playing percussion on the undercarriage of an overturned car during one. Sauiner’s rock band played a set for a third, a Buster Keaton Short.

Empire Drive In-Queens-Hall of Science-Jeff Stark-Todd Chandler-NYC-6The projection and south booth is made from a junked SUV stacked on top of a van

Empire Drive In-Queens-Hall of Science-Jeff Stark-Todd Chandler-NYC-4Greg Saunier of Deerhoof plays percussion on the undercarriage of a junked car alongside a Casio keyboard orchestra during Charlie Chaplin’s One A.M.  

A brief intermission followed and afterward everyone settled into, onto, and around the cars with their popcorn for the feature film, Jim Jarmusch’s Night On Earth, a film that takes place in taxis in five major cities around the world (including New York). After the film, many seemed reluctant to leave and lingered around the cars, admiring the glowing marquee at the entrance and staring in awe of the giant screen.

Empire Drive In-Queens-Hall of Science-Jeff Stark-Todd Chandler-NYC-3

Empire Drive In-Queens-Hall of Science-Jeff Stark-Todd Chandler-NYC-5 Most of Empire Drive-In’s signs are hand painted

Empire Drive-In runs through October 20, with four shows a week, with a themed program curated by either Starck or Chandler, or one of their many partner organizations.

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