As an events and entertainment company, Steve LeVine Entertainment & Public Relations was hit by the coronavirus pandemic — and hit hard.
Following the postponement of Scottsdale Fashion Week, a four-day event SLE hosts in the spring that attracts thousands of guests, hundreds of other events disappeared from their calendar.
“And we knew that in order to survive as a company, we had to pivot,” said CEO Steve LeVine.
SLE began hosting virtual entertainment, including live music, comedy sets and movies.
They then worked with city officials in Scottsdale and Glendale to create safe, socially distanced drive-in events.
And that led to the creation of their uber-successful "Pop Up Events."
SLE has hosted 3,700 cars with more than 11,000 attendees at their more-than 70 Pop Up Events in Scottsdale and Glendale.
At their newest venue, WestWorld, which can host more than 500 vehicles, SLE has hosted eight events, with the Ultimate Fighting Championship 251 streaming event and the showings of “Jurassic Park” and “Despicable Me” drawing their biggest crowds.
SLE has also hosted events at Sonora Village in Scottsdale and Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale.
“We have had sold-out movies, including ‘Star Wars,’ ‘The Call of the Wild,’ ‘The Sandlot’ and ‘The Greatest Showman,’” LeVine said.
UFC was the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first drive-in event and drew more than 350 fans.
“It was a great experience,” LeVine said. “Not only were guests treated to amazing fights, we also had a ‘social distant’ live interview with UFC fighter Frankie Saenz, which gave attendees an inside look and how he is prepping for his upcoming fight and how he is staying busy during these times.
“It was awesome to hear everyone honking and flashing their lights and cheering from their cars.”
And the Pop Up Events keep on coming.
Next weekend’s lineup includes a special showing of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” on July 31.
“With the closing of Metro Center Mall, we thought it would be a great tribute, plus celebrating the 30th anniversary of ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,’ which was partially filmed there,” LeVine said.
As guests arrive, DJ Soulman will be live video-mixing throwback ‘80s tunes.
“He really does such a great job formatting music that everyone loves,” LeVine said. “You just can’t help to dance in your seat singing along to every song he plays.”
Tickets are $20 per car.
In addition to hosting private events and other smaller-scale events, SLE brainstormed other unique events, like pop-up gaming events.
“We’ve learned so much to make these live events event better,” LeVine said.
Hosted by SLE and presented by Game On Entertainment and Showboss AV, Game On Mega Drive In takes place Aug. 7-8 at WestWorld.
The two-day event will feature movies, Super Smash Ultimate tournaments, a virtual cosplay contest, live music and more. Tickets are $40 per car.
“August is playing host to a lot of private events, but we will continue to host movie nights and movie-style events like UFC, concerts, comedy and more,” LeVine said.
LeVine added that SLE will plan events through the fall, while continuing to work with the City of Scottsdale and the governor’s office to ensure all events are safe.
SLE is also considering expanding into different cities and states, too.
“Besides the drive-ins we have been doing locally in AZ, we have been consulting for new drive-ins in San Francisco, Washington D.C., Miami, and a few in Texas,” LeVine said.
While LeVine does believe drive-ins and social distance events will be around “for quite some time,” he does admit that he isn’t sure how the pandemic will impact the traditional movie theater experience moving forward.
“I think with the streaming available to everyone’s house with Netflix, Disney+, and all the others that are available along with the new services popping up like HBO Max and [NBC’s] Peacock, people have the ability to create the movie viewing experiences they prefer,” LeVine said.
“I noticed that movie theaters are also starting to stream to homes as well; and because of the pandemic, we saw new movie releases stream directly from the studios to homes as well,” he added.
In the meantime, SLE will continue to update their website with new movie nights and other drive-in events.
“We are working hard to continually improve the experience at our drive-ins,” LeVine said.
“We are constantly looking at everything and are always adding new ideas and making things we have been doing event better, from trivia on the screens, customized announcements and commercials, special effects and concessions.”