Coming To a Big Screen Near You

KinoparkingThe cinema is located in a former industrial area near Savyolovskaya metro station. The site is decked out with a huge screen and a stall selling snacks.
In a huge empty lot near a former grain elevator, cars draw up in front of a screen to watch Matt Damon in "Dogma."

Inspired by drive-in cinemas in the United States, the founders of Kinoparking decided to recreate the experience in Moscow, right down to neon signs and a stall selling beer and popcorn.

"We bought all the books on Amazon about drive-in cinemas," said co-founder Alexei Makarov.

The cinema opened in a former industrial area near Savyolovskaya metro station in July.

The founders, Makarov and Alexei Gusarov, are brothers-in-law. It was Makarov who had the idea to open the cinema after he visited an enormous 13-screen drive-in cinema in Florida.

"It was like a new experience," he said. "I decided I would like to do something like this here in Moscow."

The founders said their investor works for a major Russian company but declined to name him. Both are only 24, but they have some business experience. Makarov ran a marketing agency, while Gusarov used to own a nightlife magazine.

Their office in the nearby grain elevator -- which also houses Gaudi Arena night club -- has walls pasted with business cards and signs in English saying "deadlines" and "total income."

A mattress on the floor testifies to many late nights. "We sleep here because there's too much work," Gusarov said.

So far, the cinema is struggling to attract punters, despite the huge pin-sharp screen and reasonable ticket prices (500 rubles per car on weekdays and 600 rubles on weekends). "Many people just don't understand what it is," Makarov said.

At around 10:30 p.m. on a weeknight, only seven cars had turned up. The cinema opens at 9:30 p.m. and runs through to a final screening at 3:30 a.m. The audience is mainly young couples and families with small children, Gusarov said.

The owners hope that the cinema will become more popular as people return from their dachas.

They are introducing soft-porn films in the final slot. "We think it may be interesting for some kind of clients," Makarov said. "We all understand what they do in their cars."

For people who don't have cars, they will offer a Soviet-era Chaika limousine for hire from next month, so people can watch films in Politburo style.

In December, they plan to open an ice rink on the lot. People will watch films as they skate and listen to the soundtrack through radio headphones.

Eventually, they want to open a chain of drive-in cinemas in other Russian cities.

It costs far less to open a drive-in cinema than a normal one, Makarov said. "Even a cinema seat costs $200."

The cinema is located at 1 Skladochnaya Ulitsa. Metro Savyolovskaya. Tel. 585-0837,