Portland, Oregon: Summer Arrives With Free Outdoor Movies

Photo Credit: Nathan Harrison

Photo Credit: Nathan Harrison

Summer in , means one thing: sunshine. And during the summer, people go crazy for outdoor activities and events like hiking, parades, and outdoor movies. The following is an insider’s guide to ’s outdoor cinema scene; everything you need to catch your movies under the stars this summer.

The city where I live, Portland, Oregon, is known for being rainy. Like, ten months out of the year. So when July and August arrive the town goes a little crazy.

It’s as if no one’s ever seen sun before. The citizens madly scurry about like hyperkinetic beavers, painting their houses, filling potholes, constructing new buildings, and generally creating noise and congestion everywhere. Not a weekend goes by without some major thoroughfare being shut down for a parade, a walk to benefit a popular disease, a “fun run” (two words that just don’t go together in my mind), a street fair, or a multicultural hoe-down featuring local blues bands and patchouli-scented hippies on bicycles.

In other words, summer here sucks.

There’s one shining exception, though: Summer means free outdoor movies. It’s become quite the vogue, in Portland and elsewhere, to project films out-of-doors, and each year my city is awash in free open air cinema screenings. Theater attendance may be down, but it would seem that people still love to watch a free movie under the stars with their butt crammed into a lawn chair.

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are the most popular nights for outdoor films. This can lead to scheduling conflicts, especially if you have a fetish for family-friendly fare. Last year, for example, Bee Movie was shown at Holly Farm Park on the same night that The Goonies — a perennial local favorite, because it was shot here in Oregon — was playing downtown in Pioneer Courthouse Square, with the suburbs offering (oh dear lord, no) Daddy Day Camp. If you’re scouting out free flicks to take in with your kids, the best way to choose one is to simply figure out what’s closest to your house. Unless it’s Daddy Day Camp, in which case you’d have more fun staying home, locked in your dark basement, smacking yourself in the head with a rock.

Other nights, the choices are a little tougher. The Wizard of Oz or Shane? Hairspray or The Princess Bride? Dirty Dancing or Enchanted?

As I’m both a lover of movies and perpetually broke, the idea of gratis outdoor films delights me. But just because you don’t have to buy a ticket, that doesn’t mean they don’t come with a cost. Hell, even free, some aren’t worth the price — you couldn’t pay me to watch The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep again under any circumstances, much less while swatting mosquitoes.

But the inconveniences are sometimes more than worth it. The suburb where I live just released their summer movie schedule, and among the offerings are Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Kung Fu Panda, and Wall-E. I may even head to the park for Journey to the Center of the Earth. I’ve never seen a 30-foot-tall Brendan Fraser in a city park in 3-D before. Now that’s worth the price of admission.

Source: “Summer, the Season of Free Outdoor Movies” by Dawn Taylor -Cinematical.com. Read full article at: http://www.cinematical.com/2009/05/05/summer-the-season-of-free-outdoor-movies/.

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