The silver screen’s great escape
May 23, 2012
Even as movies shrink to fit onto our computers, tablets and smart phones, Tinseltown seems to be thinking big this season, with outdoor movie screens popping up all over greater Los Angeles. With Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer, this might be a good time to turn off the iPad, stretch out on a picnic blanket and start making plans to share a little cinematic magic under the stars.
Perhaps the highest-profile al fresco offerings come from none other than the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The inaugural season of “Oscars Outdoors” debuts this June in a brand new open-air venue complete with a 40-foot by 20-foot screen. The Academy hopes the film series will give audiences a more social movie-going experience.
“The idea of having an outdoor screening facility, which could offer an ‘outside the box’ approach to our screenings and programs, seemed like a wonderful way to return the feeling of community to movie-going,” said Randy Haberkamp, Managing Director of Programming, Education and Preservation.
The season kicks off with the Casablanca on Friday, June 15, and goes on to feature other classics like Shane and A Star Is Born, in addition to more recent fare like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dreamgirls and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. The season concludes Saturday, August 18 with a “sing-along” screening of The Wizard of Oz. Tickets for non-members are $5.
Another new outdoor movie series is “Eat/See/Hear,” which takes its shows on the road using cutting edge technology, including a three-story inflatable screen (“the largest west of the Mississippi,” boasts its website). As the name implies, the shows offer more than movies.
“We have this amazing weather and we’re the city that started the food truck revolution, so we thought, ‘Let’s mash up food with the movies and throw in some of the best local bands,’ ” said Sharon Sperber, co-producer of the events, which are presented by the online movie ticketing company Fandango.
Eat/See/Hear’s 2012 program kicks off at Santa Monica High School this Saturday, May 26, with Anchorman, music from Islands and The Diamond Light and 10 different food trucks. From there, the show travels to Pasadena, Brentwood, North Hollywood, Beverly Hills and other locations in the area. General admission is $10.
Other ways to get your outdoor film fix this summer include free programs such as Movies on the Green at the Valley Cultural Center and the Old Pasadena Film Festival, which will screen classics and family-friendly films over four weekends in July.
Not all the outdoor movie programs are newcomers. For the past decade, Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery has been showing vintage films and cult classics, projecting them onto the white marble wall of Rudolph Valentino’s tomb. Cinespia’s 2012 schedule is already underway, with Sabrina and Grease coming up this weekend, on Saturday, May 26, and Sunday, May 27, respectively. A $10 donation is requested.
Another quintessentially L.A. outdoor movie-going experience takes place at the Hollywood Bowl, where audience members, many of them in costume, can sing along as Grease and The Sound of Music are screened, on July 14 and Sept. 22 respectively. Tickets start at $9.
The world’s entertainment capital has never been mistaken for a small town, but as this summer’s outdoor film bonanza rolls out, it just might feel like one. See you at the movies!