Comedy, action and a Disney movie share the lineup for the return of the free outdoor summer movies to downtown Kent.
The debut of the city of Kent’s Summer Nights and the Silver Screen was so popular last year at Town Square Plaza Park that city officials decided to bring the movie series back.
The three movies last year drew an average of about 500 people per Friday night despite rather cool weather.
“They were pretty popular,” said Ronda Billerbeck, city program manager for cultural events. “That was our first year so we thought that was a pretty good number.”
The Friday-night series kicks off at 9:15 p.m. Aug. 6 with “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The 1986 movie features actor Matthew Broderick as a high school wise guy determined to take a day off from school despite what the principal thinks of that idea.
“We wanted a comedy and Ferris is quite a saga,” Billerbeck said.
Movie goers must bring their own chairs to set up at the plaza as no seats will be provided. There is a small grass area where people can spread blankets. The movies will show rain or shine.
“The weather (last year) on all three nights was OK,” Billerbeck said. “It was not super sunny (during the day) or warm. The first night was overcast and cool. The other two nights were partly cloudy, but not rainy.”
The inflatable screen measures 20 feet wide and 40 feet high. The screen will be placed in the northwest corner of the park and face toward the fountains.
The city will pay Epic Events, of Bellingham, to provide the screen, projection equipment and sound system. The city also pays a fee to distributor Swank Motion Pictures, Inc., of St. Louis, for the licensing rights to show the movies.
Allied Waste picked up most of the costs of the movies. That’s the reason the outdoor movies are back despite city budget cutbacks.
“It was contingent on getting a sponsor,” Billerbeck said.
Donations are taken the night of the movies to help fund the city’s summer programs.
City officials also wanted to keep activities going as often as possible at the downtown park.
“We’re really excited to have this at Town Square Plaza and to have it be a dynamic and active place in our city,” Billerbeck said.
The other two movies in the series are “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” at 9 p.m. Aug. 13 and “Cars,” at 9 p.m. Aug. 20.
Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” a 1981 film and first in a series of adventure movies featuring Ford as Jones.
“We wanted an action movie and Raiders is a classic,” Billerbeck said.
Disney films were unavailable last year because the company did not license its movies for outdoor venues. Disney changed that policy this year, but allowed only a limited number of dates for the films to be shown.
“There are a lot of rules around movies and we could only have our last one be a Disney movie because it fell in the license frame,” Billerbeck said. “We talked about a lot of Disney movies, but we could not show them.”
“Cars” is a 2006 animated film that features talking vehicles and many famous voices including: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy and others.
Billerbeck said park officials talked about trying to get “Grease” for a sing-along film similar to “Mama Mia” last year but could not obtain the licensing rights to show. The other movies in the series last year were “Footloose” and “Kung Fu Panda.”
Park officials debated whether to try to pick three movies this season based on a theme, such as all kids movies or all classics.
“But we decided to keep it a mix like last year and show different stuff,” Billerbeck said.
If you go
What: Summer Nights and the Silver Screen outdoor movies
• “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” 9:15 p.m. Aug. 6
• “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” 9 p.m. Aug. 13
• “Cars,” 9 p.m. Aug. 20
Where: Town Square Plaza, Second Avenue and Harrison Street