There is going to be a little something different to see at the Sponge Docks next month. The city's Recreation Department will bring its popular outdoor movie series to the Hellenic cultural district Saturday, March 7, with a showing of "Mamma Mia!"
The highest-grossing movie musical in Hollywood history, "Mama Mia!" stars Meryl Streep and features the songs of ABBA, the Swedish pop quartet that drew international acclaim from 1972 to 1982 and retains a cult following.
Margie Prichard, recreation supervisor, said this will be the first visit for the outdoor movie series to the Sponge Docks. Movies have traditional been shown in Craig Park, where moviegoers can sit on the lawn.
For this showing, the city wanted to attract tourists and locals alike to the Sponge Docks.
Alissa Fatolitis is working with the Sponge Docks Merchants Association to promote the riverfront tourist district during a drop in visitors. As a result of the poor economy there are many empty shops, she said.
"This is supposed to be the height of the tourist season, leaving many merchants to wonder what it will be like during the normally slow summer season," she said.
Finding a place to show the movie proved to be the toughest part of the project, Prichard said. There has to be electricity and restroom facilities available and a comfortable place for people to sit.
For example, the parking lot across Dodecanese Boulevard from the former Pappas Restaurant was ruled out because of its hard asphalt surface and the possible distraction a movie might pose to motorists driving by on Pinellas Avenue.
Daniela Smyth, city recreation supervisor in charge of project, said after an extensive search the spacious courtyard of the Sponge Exchange Shopping Plaza emerged as the best site for the movie. This location, at the intersection of Dodecanese Boulevard and Athens Street, was designed with performances in mind and has already been a site for concerts.
The courtyard has electricity, is near a public restroom and could safely and easily accommodate a large crowd, Smyth said.
"Mamma Mia!" was chosen to kick off the movie series because it has proven to be really popular with adults, teens and other lovers of 1970s and '80s music, Smyth said. A preview earlier this month at the Tarpon Springs Community Center drew an overflow crowd, she said.
People are encouraged to bring chairs to view the film, which should start at dusk, around 6:30 p.m. Before the film they can grab take-out from one of the many Sponge Dock restaurants, she noted.
Fatolitis said she actually hopes film fans will arrive earlier, around 4 p.m., and participate in a scavenger hunt. Participants don't have to buy the items, just discover in which store they are located to be eligible to win prizes.
If the event proves a success, Smyth said, the series will return on occasion to the Sponge Docks. The next stop for the outdoor movie series, however, will be Sunset Beach, in May.
Source: "Tarpon Movie Series To Visit The Sponge Docks" by Mark Schantz -The Suncoast News. Read full article at: http://suncoastpinellas.tbo.com/content/2009/feb/21/pi-tarpon-movie-series-to-visit-the-sponge-docks/