Plymouth’s Moonrise Cinema Is More Than Movies

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Any good drama film has an obstacle, some people brave enough to take it on, and a crowd-pleasing finale. 

That’s the story, in short, of Moonrise Cinemas in Plymouth, although Andrew Hoag, general manager and co-owner of Moonrise Cinemas, hopes that the story has really just begun for the outdoor venue that hosts drive-in movies, live music and special events. 

Time for a flashback. 

Hoag and his business partner, Tito Ladd, worked producing special events until COVID hit the U.S. 

“We had a year’s worth of bookings that just evaporated into thin air,” Hoag said. Adjusting on the fly, they spent the summer of 2020 taking a mobile movie screen to fairgrounds to create a temporary drive-in movie theater. “It was an in-person event that worked well with social distancing,” he said. 

Moonrise drive in customers Photo Credit Alexis Marie Photography Designs scaled
Photo by Alexis Marie Photography + Designs

They put down roots for Moonrise Cinemas in 2021, when they found a spot on Court Street, not far south of the Kingston town line, adjacent to a former grocery store. In addition to the movies, Moonrise Cinemas has a kitchen and bar, with beer and wine and cocktails. There’s plenty of room for outdoor yard games to occupy young ones before the movie. 

“The first year was great, and as with any new business we learned a lot,” he said. “It was fun to see the community rally around drive-in movies again.

“My partner and I both have young kids, so, we sympathize with that problem of where do you go as a family? A place like a jump house or a trampoline park or a playground is designed and geared specifically toward kids. If you go to a restaurant, that is an adult experience and you’re hoping your kids will behave and not go crazy. Families need somewhere to go together.” 

Moonrise started as an outdoor theater, but Hoag hopes to see it become a community gathering place in 2022, with concerts, live theater and other events. “Our tagline is that Moonrise is much more than just movies. The way we think about it is that everyone within a 30 or 40 mile radius of us is a customer. They just may not realize it yet.” 

Kids at MoonrisePhoto Credit Alexis Marie Photography Designs scaled
Photo by Alexis Marie Photography + Designs

Customers can reserve space for small-group gatherings before a movie, like a birthday party for children or adults or graduation celebrations. It’s also possible to rent the entire two-acre venue for a larger event, like a wedding. Last year, Moonrise hosted a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth, the kind of event that traditionally would have happened in a hotel ballroom. 

Moonrise provides “a turnkey experience” for parties of whatever size, he said. “Just show up and we take care of the rest.” The 2022 season started in April and will run through early December.

Hoag and Ladd have no strict division of labor. “We’re super hands-on and involved day to day in everything that happens,” Hoag said. “We wear a lot of hats. In a single day we’re doing it all. We have a great staff and they’re awesome at what they do, but he and I are really sort of divide and conquer where we need to. Sometimes that means doing the books and paying bills, and other times that means we’re bartending and cooking food and collecting trash, and all the things that have to be done to run a public venue.” 

Hoag pointed out that for the Moonrise partners, COVID was a challenge that became an opportunity. “We gave the community a thing to do where they could stay safe and do something with other people when a lot of other experiences were delayed or closed,” he said. “Now we’re comfortable growing sustainably and slowly over time.” 

He’s particularly proud of the options for concert goers. “There’s seating and there’s a big open dance floor area. We have cocktail tables and a picnic seating area. There’s a hillside area with grass that’s really nice to put out a blanket and hang, and then there’s an area for cars, which is great for a tailgate style experience. If you had five groups of people come to the same show, they could all have a completely different experience.” 

Like anyone in the movie business, Andrew Hoag likes a little suspense now and then. 

“It’s a little bit of a cliffhanger, but there are some big concerts and other big events coming up that we’re not quite ready to talk about yet,” he said. 

Maybe that’s the sequel. 

Moonrise Cinemas is located at 428 Court St., Plymouth. For more information visit or call 508-505-4565.