When Jay and Stephanie Sinclair started their business, Outdoor Cinema Events, in March 2008, their goal was to establish a River Bend tradition that everyone could enjoy year after year.
So far, they've made good on their plan.
"I remember last summer when we showed вЂThe Goonies,'" says Sinclair. "I think what draws most people is the fact that they can see classic movies and films the way they remember them - on the big screen."
Their first film this year, "Top Gun," will be shown on May 22 at the riverfront amphitheatre. The show is sponsored by State Farm Insurance agent Greg Mossman.
"All of our events are free of charge," says Jay Sinclair. "A majority of our service costs are covered by advertising. It works out for everyone because many local businesses are able to get their ads across to hundreds of people at a time - just like in a movie theater."
Outdoor Cinema Events works with Alton Park and Recreation, along with Friends of Haskell to provide a space for the films to be shown. An inflatable movie screen, provided by Open Air Cinema, is available for both public and private events.
"We are always looking for ways to bring attention to good causes. For example, at the show on the 22nd, all cash donations and glow necklace sales will benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society."
Outdoor Cinema Events assists with the planning that goes along with hosting a public or private event. They set up and take down their own film and sound equipment, and help with the advertisement of the event on their Web site.
"We even go as far as to help the host think of fund-raising ideas to help offset the cost of the licensing fee."
The licensing, or copyright, fees are purchased from either Swank or Criterion Motion Pictures - the only places to access legally copyrighted films in the nation. The copyright costs range from $80-250.
"Most families will go out to a movie with their family and shell out money like it's no big deal," says Sinclair. "Seeing a вЂMovie on the Mississippi' or a вЂMovie in the Park' is great because you can show up with $10 in your pocket, sprawl out on a blanket, see a movie, and not have to pay."
"The host of an event has the option of providing concessions," says Sinclair. "At our public events, we sell refreshments and bags of popcorn for $1."
The Sinclairs started their business because of the kids. All of the movies they have shown thus far were family-friendly, and Jay insists that it stay that way.
"It is a good time. We haven't shown an вЂR' rated movie yet. Even if it was a private event, people could drive by and get offended. We really just want to provide a place where the kids can mingle with adults. The atmosphere is really laid-back."
All shows start at dusk, so it is recommended that moviegoers show up early.
"People who show up early bring their Frisbees, and I play pre-show music for everyone. No one polices the audience, so it is great for all ages," says Sinclair. "Kids can run around in the lawn and on the playgrounds, and adults can relax in their lawn chairs."
By KIMBERLY A. CAMPBELL