In Florida, Watzke has been turning away customers on weekends. Even with every-other-space parking cutting capacity in half, he deemed it an ”exceptional night” for this time of year.

Watzke made some other adjustments for the pandemic, fencing in a 70-foot walkway at the concession stand and laying light strips to mark six-foot intervals where customers should stand. He’s using more to-go packaging and hired extra workers to deliver food to customers who prefer to order over the internet.

For now, Watzke doesn’t want to pass along those extra costs to customers, though they trim his profit margin by about 20%.

Another obstacle is the lack of new releases, which studios are withholding until indoor theaters are open. Watzke is showing a mix of older movies, such as “Wonder Woman,” and independent films, including IFC’s “How to Build a Girl” and “The Wretched.” A few weekends ago, he screened Harry Potter movies.

“I don’t think people care as much about what they’re coming to see,’’ he said. “They just want to get out of their house.’’

All three screens at the Coyote Drive-In were sold out Friday night as Texans seized the chance to get out of their homes. Maribel Rodriguez, 45, loaded up her three kids to see “Trolls World Tour” after spending weeks confined to their house. She wasn’t sure how her children would react, but she thinks the drive-in made some new fans.

“I think we will come out more often,” she said. “It brings us all together as a family.”

The renaissance for drive-ins should last at least through the summer, said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Paramount, a unit of ViacomCBS Inc. The outdoor venues will have almost a monopoly on moviegoing at least through June, as most indoor theaters remain closed and customers seek alternatives to closed spaces.

“I think people are going to be very comfortable with outdoor, out-of-home entertainment,” Aronson said.

Proprietors are hoping their new customers will stay loyal even after virus risks ease.