Summer blockbusters (May 13, 14 and many other dates)

May 12, 2008

Last week I heard an interview with Martin Casas, the founder of Front Yard Features, and it sounded like he still couldn’t quite believe the endeavor he started on a whim in 2006 has caught on so broadly and so quickly. From a series of nine movies (projected onto two sheets sewn together) in Tower Grove Park, he expanded his free outdoor movie venture to 40 films at sites across the city last year. This year’s goal is 200 movies in 200 communities across Missouri.

The company already has a surprisingly full summer calendar in St. Louis and Kansas City posted on its homepage. They range from classics like Meet Me in St. Louis, playing Wednesday (May 14) at Forest Park’s World’s Fair Pavilion, to spoofs like Superbad, playing Thursday (May 22) at Soulard Market’s park. Some will be experimental, like the Idaho Avenue Film Festival’s independent movie series (May 31), featuring local student and amateur films; but most are time-tested crowd-pleasers and blockbusters.

The movie locations are diverse and creative — Front Yard Features has a portable, inflatable screen so all that’s needed is a big empty space for an audience — and all movies begin after sunset. That’s pretty late for my kids right now (as they keep telling me, their bedtime comes before it even gets dark!) but the nice thing is that the series, which started last week, runs all the way into October.

Over at Westport Plaza Village, FYF is behind another free movie series that kicks off tomorrow (May 13) with Alvin and the Chipmunks and continues until August. The movies start at sundown, but in the two hours prior, families can set up camp and while away the wait with face painting, snacks, balloon making and other activities. [Breaking news: Due to the rain, this event is being moved indoors, to the pavilion between Ozzie’s and The Drunken Fish. The pre-movie amenities are the same, and parking tickets for the garage below Ozzie’s can be validated at the movie for free parking.]

If evening movies aren’t your family’s thing but you like the Westport atmosphere, check out its other summertime entertainment:

  • lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. and Saturdays at noon, with local duos and trios across the rock/blues/jazz spectrum.
  • evening blues and jazz concerts Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • street entertainment — jugglers, magicians, living statues and caricature artists — Saturdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

That doesn’t even include the festivals listed on the Westport calendar; it all has me wishing the drive wasn’t quite so long from our house!

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