Today, George Lucas and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk announced the purchase of the old Coliseum 4 property adjacent to the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland, California, with the intention of building a state-of-the-art drive-in movie theater—designed exclusively for electric cars. The complex, which will be called The Lucas Starlight after a drive-in theater in his hometown of Modesto, is slated to open in 2015 in time for the release of Star Wars VII, which will be directed by J.J. Abrams and star Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill.
“No one will get ICEd at the Starlight.”
“The greatest hurdle to the widespread acceptance of electric vehicles remains the lack of convenient locations to get a charge,” Lucas said in a statement. “The Lucas Starlight, powered by Tesla and THX, will help change that, creating a first-of-its-kind facility for the consumption of both entertainment and energy.”
With four screens and room for 420 vehicles, The Lucas Starlight will feature a Tesla Supercharger for every parking space, as well as CHAdeMO connectors used by electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf. During the movie, while their cars are being charged, theatergoers will enjoy THX II Certified 5.1 sound on their vehicle’s speakers via Bluetooth. As for the snack bar, that will be managed by Alice Waters of nearby Chez Panisse. “Even the popcorn will be cutting edge,” Lucas says.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the project is its electric-only mandate. Drivers of internal-combustion engines, and even those behind the wheels of hybrids, will not be allowed on the property, ensuring, as Lucas puts it, that “No one will get ICEd at the Starlight.”
For Lucas, the Starlight is the latest in a string of milestones achieved since late 2012, when the billionaire director/producer/philanthropist sold Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Company. In January of 2013, Lucas revealed his engagement to Mellody Hobson, and in March, he unveiled plans for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in San Francisco’s Presidio.