Aurora, Illinois: Saturday Nights' Outdoor Movies Saved by Creative Thinking

Sunset Cinema of LaSalle has been providing Super Screen Saturday Nights in Phillips Park since 2007, showing free outdoor movies with a 40-foot inflatable screen. In past years, these events have cost the city $106,000. Super Screen Saturday Nights draw roughly 1,500 people for each movie, according to Sunset President Carrie Brown.

But with the city staring down a $19 million shortfall while drafting the 2010 budget, officials were considering cutting the movies. While Brown acknowledges that losing a customer was part of her concern, a deeper part came from her connection to Aurora. "We're there every Saturday night, we meet people, we see the kids and families who come," she said.

"To take that away at a time when the economy is so hard on families ... we had to come up with some way to keep doing this." The solution? A substantial discount to the city -- Aurora will pay $8,500 this year for six movie nights - and a sponsorship program that will allow local companies to advertise. Sponsors will get their ads played on the big screen, and names atop the screen.

Representatives will get to come to the movie nights and hand out information. Brown said Sunset has already found a sponsor for one of the six movie nights. Andre Salles.


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