Tag Archives | Iowa

Mason City, Iowa: Reminiscing about Outdoor Movie Memories

Craig Binnebose, proprietor of the Mason City Drive-In Theatre Museum, shows some old projector reels. The museum is in the former Cinema V movie theater at Southbridge Mall in Mason City. (BRYON HOULGRAVE/The Globe Gazette)

Years after the Mason City Drive-In Theatre closed, Craig Binnebose still lives that sweet summertime dream.

The former Strand Theatre doorman is preserving North Iowa movie history at his Drive-In Theatre Museum in Southbridge Mall.

Binnebose, 55, is surrounded by his collection of outdoor theater speakers, film reels, historic Mason City photos and classic posters with quaint taglines:

“From out of space … a warning and an ultimatum!” (1951’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still”)

“The Man who Made a Monster” (1931’s “Frankenstein”)

“It comes to life!” (1932’s “The Mummy”)

Also on display in the glassed-in museum (housed in the Cinema V theater complex), a drive-in theater seashell “speaker” used by Fred Flintstone (John Goodman) in 1994’s “The Flintstones.”

“I always had an interest in the equipment,” said Binnebose, a former sheet metal worker and manufacturing engineer. “It was part of the movie experience you didn’t get to see.”

He has fond memories of old movie days in Mason City.

Historic photos at the Drive-In Museum show the premiere of the  3-D “Man in the Dark” from April 1953 at the Palace Theatre.

A 1941 public relations photo for “I Wanted Wings” shows kids gathered ’round an airplane outside the Cecil Theatre where, Binnebose said, you were likely to see bats aflight in the rafters even as “Dracula” played.

“Watching real bats flying around was pretty cool,” he said.

The Mason City Drive-In opened in 1949 and closed after showing “Twister,” “Eraser” and “Executive Decision” on Oct. 9, 1996. On that site now is the Lyons Toyota dealership.

“Bad sound,” Binnebose said of the drive-in, “but it was an event for families. I was always trying to sneak in for free.”

He hopes eventually to show Saturday afternoon movies at the Drive-In Museum and make a documentary film on local drive-ins.

He’ll try to keep the display interesting for passersby.

Richard Johnson



Independence, Iowa: The Independence Public Library Presents Outdoor Movies

Photo Credit: The Independence Bulletin Journal

Photo Credit: The Independence Bulletin Journal

Get ready for movie action as the Independence Public Library presents outdoor movies in the park during the summer at the River Walk Park Band Shell. The outdoor cinema events are free to the public.

The open air cinema setting is reminiscent of the community movie nights many reminisce about. Having moved beyond the clattering 16 millimeter projector and hanging sheet for a screen, it is bigger and better than ever. The 5000 lumens DLP projector lights up the 10’ x 13’ screen, and the powerful Peavey speaker system completes the presentation.

According to Eric Smith, his family really likes coming to the outdoor movies in the park. Smith says, “We enjoy spending beautiful summer evenings in Riverside Park, snacking on popcorn and watching movies. It is neat to be outside at community gatherings.” Movies will be shown once a month from May through August at the band pavilion in the River Walk Parks (northeast side of Independence next to the Wapsipinicon River). Each movie is free and open to the public. In addition to this, the Friends of the Library will sell concessions, including pop and popcorn, at each of the outdoor films.

The sponsors of each movie make it possible to pay for the public performance fees necessary for showing each movie. Sponsors this year are Wilson Photography, Veridian Credit Union, and BankIowa.

All movies are at the River Walk Park Band Shell. Following are dates and times:

Friday, May 22 at 8:30 pm

Friday, June 26 at 8:30 pm

Friday, July 17 at 8:30 pm

Friday, Aug. 7 at 8:00 pm

The May movie has a rain date of May 29. The June, July, and August movies will be moved indoors to the library’s Community Room in the case of rain. Bring blankets or chairs, find a spot in the park, and settle in for a movie! According to Eric Smith’s five year-old daughter, “I like being outside, finding the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper during the movie. We bring blankets and I sit by Mommy and Daddy and I sit by my brother and sister.”

Because of restrictions with public performance rights, publicity of the movie titles is restricted and can’t be published in newspapers, on TV, or on the Internet. You can see what the titles are by going to the library and picking up a bookmark listing all the summer movies, or by calling the library at 334-2470.

Check out the website www.indylibrary.org or stop at the library to find out more.

Source: The Independence Bulletin Journal. Read full article at: http://communitynewspapergroup.com/articles/2009/05/12/bulletin-journal/news/doc4a09a51d9d8e2736892888.txt.


St. Ansgar, Iowa: Outdoor Movies Revived in Saint Ansgar

St. Ansgar, Iowa Revives Outdoor MoviesSteve and Lorraine Beland were looking to create a bit of nostalgia when they decided to show outdoor movies on the site of the old Bel-Air Drive-In, two miles west of St. Ansgar.

“We were hoping to bring back a little history of the original site and maybe create a bit of publicity for our winery,” said Lorraine.

The couple owns Bel-Aire Winery.

The original Bel-Air Fly-In Drive-In Theater began operation in the 1950s under the ownership of Andy Anderson.

The drive-in was a combination and fly-in drive-in. At its peak, the drive-in held 100-150 cars per night, plus small planes that decided to fly in, land on the grass runway, taxi in, grab a speaker and watch the show.

The drive-in ceased operation when strong winds blew down half the screen in the late 1970s.

The Belands purchased the 13-acre property at 4351 Dancer Ave., just off Highway 105, in 1988.

With business partner Adam Strouf, the Belands began renovating the old drive-in snack bar and projection building for use in the winery business.

After renovation work and securing the proper licensing, Bel-Aire Winery opened for business in 2007. The building houses various processing machines and storage vats, a storage room, a bathroom and a tasting room for the public.

The idea for recreating the drive in movie concept originated about mid-winter.

“We found a company at Swank.com that allowed one-day licensing rights to outdoor movies for a certain fee. We decided not to charge any admission because of the fact that you had to split those profits with company,” said Steve. “We didn’t really decide to go into this venture to make a huge profit, so we decided on the free admission idea.”

After securing licensing rights to the movies, the Belands had to find a DVD projector that was suitable for outdoor showings. They found one on e-Bay, an online auction Web site.

A 16 foot-by-16 foot viewing screen was built. Lorraine purchased a reflective type of cloth and sewed the “screen” together to fit the framework.

On June 21, a crowd of approximately 45 people watched the movie “White Lightning.”

“We don’t charge admission and patrons can bring their own food and drink if they desire,” said Lorraine. “We do sell pop, hot dogs, pop corn and we ask for donations to help cover the cost of the licensing of the movie. People can also sample and purchase our wines if they desire.

“If we break even we’re pretty happy.”

Patrons are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

“We’ve had many positive comments,” said Steve. “People like the idea of the drive-in concept. We’ve also had many people tell us about the times they attended the old drive-in or even worked in the concession stand.”

“Back to the Future” is scheduled for Aug. 9.

Some interesting things have occurred since the movies began playing.

“My son took his Wii setup out to the area and played some games on the big screen,” said Steve. “That looked pretty neat and we’ve considered having some Wii competitions out here somewhere down the road.”


Netflix Outdoor Movie Rolling Roadshow

Imagine watching Jaws on a large outdoor movie screen set up on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard where it was filmed or watching Escape from Alcatraz in the cell block from which Clint Eastwood’s Frank Morris tunneled his way out.
Outdoor Movie Rolling Roadshow Hosted by Lisa Loeb

Netflix Outdoor Movie Rolling RoadshowThis August, the Netflix Rolling Roadshow celebrates classic American movies by screening them in the locations they helped make famous. Each outdoor screening is a special interactive event (think scavenger hunts, road rallies, a high school prom, even spending the night on Alcatraz Island). Some of these open air screenings will also include cast reunions and question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers.

Chart-topping singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb, who’s charmed audiences through her work in music, film and TV, joins the Netflix Rolling Roadshow as its in-market host and goodwill ambassador. Lisa, who currently stars in E! Entertainment’s reality show #1 Single, will take her effervescent personality and cool wit on location for all 10 shows. Catch her on the road!

August 2nd: The Warriors, Coney Island, New York City, New York
August 5th: Jaws, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
August 8th: Clerks, Red Bank, New Jersey
August 10th: Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Northbrook, Illinois
August 11th: Field of Dreams, Dyersville, Iowa
August 16th: The Shining, Estes Park, Colorado
August 18th: The Searchers, Monument Valley, Utah
August 20th: Raising Arizona, Apache Junction, Arizona
August 24th: Poseidon Adventure, Long Beach, California
August 26th: Escape from Alcatraz, San Francisco, California