Home CultureBlack-Owned Newark Moonlight Drive-In Cinema is Back + Bigger for Season 2

Newark Moonlight Drive-In Cinema is Back + Bigger for Season 2

by Victoria Marie Moyeno
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After its debut one year ago during the COVID pandemic, New Jersey’s first and only black-owned drive-in theater, Newark Moonlight Cinema, is back in a new location at 220 Orange Street, Newark.

Newark natives Ayana Stafford-Morris and Siree Morris are excited to debut season two of the drive-in theater just five minutes from last year’s location. Read on to learn what to expect at this season’s Newark Moonlight Cinema.

Newark Moonlight Cinema

The Ivy at Chatham

(Photo credit: @newarkmoonlight)

What to Expect

Gates open at 7PM and films begin at 9PM and 9:15PM.

The new layout features two upcycled, 800-sq. ft. container-backed viewing screens that will run distinct films each evening, Thursdays to Sundays through October 31st.

The drive-in is set up at the site of the former Baxter Terrace complex, the community where the Stafford family originates and where Ayana was raised.  The facility will park up to 300 cars per night, hosting an average of 600 to 800 ‘Moonlighters’ daily.

Read More: A Guide to Drive-In Movie Theaters in New Jersey + Beyond

Note: It’s a cashless venue. Concession transactions are processed through the FanFood app available for free download on Google Play, the AppStore, and accessible via bit.ly/moonlightfood. Classic movie theatre favorites, like freshly popped popcorn and assorted candies, will be available for purchase.

Beginning July 31st, the Morris’ will launch the Moonlight Market, a weekly, open-air bazaar featuring local vendors, their goods, and services, operating from 2PM to 6PM every Saturday.

The Movies

The Moonlight team chooses films that highlight African American filmmakers, actors, and actresses. While the overall experience will be a family-friendly and covid safe outing, the films themselves will always be worth watching. For the opening weekend, the team has chosen an old favorite and some soon-to-be-classic choices.

Newark Moonlight Cinema

(Photo credit: @newarkmoonlight)

Patrons are invited to wear Zamunda-like attire in honor of Eddie Murphy’s, “Coming 2 America,” the first showing that evening.

Newark Moonlight Cinema

(Photo credit: @newarkmoonlight)

The first 75 Newark residents with paid admission tickets and proof of address will receive free popcorn throughout the opening weekend which concludes Sunday, July 25th with “The Photograph,” starring Issa Rae and Viola Davis in August Wilson’s, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Famed Newarker, Michael B. Jordan closes the cinematic line-up with his 2021 action-thriller, “Without Remorse,” a film based on the 1993, New York Times Best-Selling novel by Tom Clancy.

The Owners

Newark Moonlight Cinema

(Photo credit: @newarkmoonlight)

“As we rise to the challenge of testing our business model through a major move, we have not wavered in our commitment to bring affordable and fun entertainment to our city,” Ayana Stafford Morris, co-owner and founder of Newark Moonlight Cinema said in a statement. “We have also seized the moment to further demonstrate our vision by adding amenities, features, and events that enrich the experience of our patrons.” ‘Moonlight,’ the new onsite eatery made of repurposed shipping containers, features date-night decadence including gourmet crab cakes, lobster rolls, and the return of crowd favorite – Yardy Wings, an original recipe by Moonlight’s kitchen manager and emerging culinary artist, Lindell “Yardy” Calder.

See More: Festivals in North Jersey: July through October 2021

“What my wife and I know, quite well, is that our community enjoys theatrics, style, good food, laughs, and the culture,” said Siree Morris, co-owner of Newark Moonlight Cinema in a follow-up statement. “This opening weekend, we are maintaining two traditions we established last season: celebrating Blackness through family, fashion, and uplifting the beauty of the African diaspora; and a Michael B. Jordan banger, that will definitely be considered a cult-classic in the future!”

Showtimes, schedule changes, special events, and emergency notifications will be updated on the website and across the social media platform @newarkmoonlight on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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