Meet the black couple who own a drive in movie theater in New Jersey that celebrates #BlackExcellence

By Duchess Magazine

“Every film is a celebration of black art.”

While the pandemic brought about the closure of many businesses, the idea for the Newark Moonlight Cinema was birthed. Co-founded by couple Ayana Morris and Siree Morris during the height of the pandemic, it’s still waxing strong.

Located at the former Newark Bears baseball stadium with the ability to host more than 300 cars per screening of films by African American filmmakers and actors, featuring two 800-square-foot, container-backed viewing screens, it’s no wonder the Black-owned drive-in offers a uniquely unforgettable experience.

“We’re able to allow our patrons to naturally social distance … you can be with the people that you’re already quarantining with, you feel comfortable with the people you live with,” Ayana Morris said. “You come down in your car, and you have a great experience watching a movie.” Since launching, the drive-in has shown movies such as Just Mercy, Girls Trip, Set It Off, and Creed 2.

After a year of operation, Newark Moonlight Cinema was able to secure sponsorship from Amazon and Prudential. Ayanna, also a filmmaker says they have plans of modernizing their drive-in experience post-COVID.

“I know that movie theaters are a thing; drive-ins are a thing,” she said. “I think a nice combo of indoor-outdoor experiences is the smart way to go in the 21st century.”

“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 said.

“We have also seized the moment to further demonstrate our vision by adding amenities, features, and events that enrich the experience of our patrons.”

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