The day is looming in the near future when some film writer will pen the drive-in movie theater's obituary. In Boise, that day has long passed, with drive-in movie theaters firmly a part of yesterday. Sure, we could wax nostalgic about watching a late-night double feature in the back of our car, lounging in our pajamas and eating homemade popcorn. Or we could send our readers out to Caldwell or Parma, where the valley's last standing drive-ins make like Custer at Little Bighorn. But we've done both.
Instead, we'd like to focus on the next generation of al fresco film—the outdoor movie series. In Manhattan, Bryant Park's summer film series packs out the green space every Monday, with thousands of New Yorkers flocking to watch classic movies under the stars. Tuesday nights in Chicago's Grant Park, it's the same scene. Seattle has the Freemont Outdoor Cinema, Portland has Flicks on Bricks, and Boise ... well, Boise has Satchel's Grill.
We love the fact that Satchel's Grill uses their patio space to show films a couple of days a week. We love it so much we have a writer working on an assignment about it right this very minute. But as much as we love that patio, there's a very finite amount of space and the whole thing is so popular, it can be hard to get a seat some nights.
Here's where Meridian gets a big applause from BW. Every Friday night, with help from sponsor CableONE, Meridian Parks and Recreation inflates a giant screen and projects a free family movie in Settlers Park. We're not talking the latest box office releases. They've all been around a few years. They're G- and PG-rated family films with cartoons characters and fairy tales aplenty. Twelve weeks, 12 movies, zero admission fee.
The city of Boise maintains close to 4,000 acres of park space, so we figure in Boise, it isn't about a lack of suitable public space. Jumping to logical conclusions would land us on an often blamed culprit: money. So we did the math. Say you project the film on the side of Boise Art Museum's building to save the cost of renting an inflatable outdoor screen. Or let's get really crazy and use the bandshell at Julia Davis Park. Someone in charge antes up a projector (BW—a free publication—has one, so we figure the city does, too). Find a sponsor willing to pay the annual licensing fee in exchange for having their name attached to the series. Invite lots of people (BW will even list your event for free). Show films. Repeat often.
Granted, it's an oversimplified equation. The city would probably have to charge itself to use the park space and likely there's a whole list of permits with associated fees that would have to be paid. Then there's the weather factor. It may not rain often in a Boise summer, but what if it does and the equipment gets all wet and ruined. And what if no one shows up? Sounds like Satchel's and Settlers have the niche filled already. Besides, just because huge metropolitan areas (and Meridian) can get away without charging doesn't mean that little ol' Boise can follow that example. Or does it?
So, Boise, here's your challenge. You have your own international film festival; you have your own Wild West cinema festival; you have a few movie stars who like to keep a Boise address (shit, maybe Val Kilmer would pony up the licensing fee if someone asked real nice like; we could play only Val films if need be); you even manage to snare a few impressive internationally touring festivals every year. Now it's time for an outdoor film series.
We'd do it ourselves, but we're too busy bitching.