Wenatchee, Washington: Outdoor Movies Series Features 'Hotel for Dogs'

Sarah Fitzgerald needed a movie to project right next door to the Wenatchee Dog Show. What better choice than "Hotel For Dogs?" This year's Movies in the Park series give Fitzgerald, the recreation coordinator for the Wenatchee Parks and Recreation Department, more than a chance to program favorite movies. Thanks to new sponsorship from the Subway sandwich corporation, she can do so with a new high-end projector and rent an improved sound system.

Fitzgerald launched the outdoor movie series five years ago. At first, family-friendly classics were projected at Centennial Park, onto a screen donated by the Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee.

But the fun times on the park lawn came with a few complaints. "Centennial was loud, for one thing," Fitzgerald says. "The traffic going by would drown out the movie." Also, the donated screen had seen better days, and it was only tentatively mounted to the park gazebo. "Every time the wind blew, I was just praying it wouldn't fall during the movie."

The projector was a loaner from the Wenatchee Fire Department, designed to show training films in small rooms rather than Hollywood comedies on a big outdoor screen.

The Subway sponsorship allowed Fitzgerald to buy a new model, twice as bright as the old projector. "I think we'll be able to accommodate larger crowds," she says. "There was a couple of times in the past that people absolutely just couldn't see or couldn't hear, and people who got there late and had seats in the back would leave."

The series moved on from the Centennial Park location last year, setting up for the first time at the Walla Walla Point Park handball courts. The white surface there proved ideal for showings, with no need for a hanging screen. Fitzgerald contracts with film distributor Swank Motion Pictures to show pictures, at a cost of about $250 per screening.

When the series began, she programmed some older films, but found that turnout improved when a more recent movie was shown."I think the kids know about them and ask the parents to go," she says.

"So we stuck with some newer films this time." The public-private partnership has already worked out well for another parks program: The annual Summer Concert Series, sponsored and organized this year by CaffГ© Mela, doubled attendance over past years. Subway agreed to sponsor the film series through 2011, Fitzgerald says. "We're hoping that in the next few years, we can give this series a boost and see it grow," she says. Jefferson Robbins.

Outdoors, onscreen "Hotel For Dogs" Plucky Emma Roberts and precocious Jake T. Austin co-star as 16-year-old Andi and her younger brother, Bruce, who've been bouncing between foster homes since their parents died.

When their resourceful and perpetually hungry Jack Russell terrier scampers off, and Andi and Bruce follow him into an abandoned downtown hotel, they find a 160-pound bull mastiff and an energetic Boston terrier already living there. Suddenly, they get an idea: Why not turn the rundown building, which just happens to have retained its electricity and antique furniture, into a full-time home for pups who have nowhere else to go who are orphans just like them?

Sept. 19: "WALL-E" Some 700 years in the future, garbage clogs the ruined streets of ruined cities. Humans have so trashed the joint that they've abandoned the planet for a gigantic spaceship, leaving robots behind to clean up the mess.

And the last one working on this project is WALL-E , a cute little Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-class. And WALL-E is lonely. Then a spaceship drops a "probe" robot called EVE, and her "directive" is finding signs of life. WALL-E is in love. Events conspire to hurl them back to the EVE's mothership, where WALL-E is treated to the future of the human race. He must accidentally shake the humans out of their complacency, back into their humanity.

Sept. 26: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" A blockbuster adaptation of the C.S. Lewis adventure about a battle between good and evil in a realm of fauns, centaurs and talking animals. The first part of Lewis' epic chronicles follows the journey of four siblings transported to mythical Narnia through an enchanted wardrobe.

Oct. 3: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" The world's most-famous archaeologist-adventurer returns to the big screen, a bit rustier for the mileage but still able to throw a good punch.

The summer blockbuster reunites Harrison Ford's Indy with the love of his life, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), and introduces Shia LaBeouf as the couple's love child, who tags along on a quest involving aliens from another dimension. The plot pits Indy and Soviet operatives (including Cate Blanchett) in a Cold War race to discover the power of a crystal artifact.

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