Summer Movie Series Guide

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Easton Movies by Moonlight

In Columbus, when the thermometer cracks 80, the big screen starts flickering. Numerous summer movie series call Columbus home, from old favorites to new kids on the block. (Or is that in the projection booth?) Highlighted below are eight of our favorites, each with a slightly different bent, all proving summertime wouldn't be the same without them.

May–July, Columbus Commons

History: Columbus Commons has had a summer movie series each year of its 4-year existence. "These movies do well when we layer the events at the Commons," says Amy Taylor of Columbus Commons. Two movies will be preceded by ticketed Popcorn Pops concerts by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. But what really sets the series apart is its locale: "There are a lot of places to see an outdoor movie, but it's a unique experience to do it downtown at Columbus Commons," Taylor says. "You're surrounded by skyscrapers."

The lineup: "Finding Nemo," "Frozen," "The Lego Movie"

Pro tip: There's no-sweat parking, with garages on Rich Street or underneath Columbus Commons, and Taylor promises "there isn't a bad seat in the house."

Every Tuesday in July and August, Easton Town Center

History: When the first Movies by Moonlight took place in 2008, "nearly every blade of grass on the Town Square was covered with families, and some kids even came dressed as Dorothy," says Easton spokesman Brock Schmaltz. The monthly series turned into a weekly tradition a year later.

The lineup: "The Wizard of Oz," "Hairspray," "Despicable Me 2"

Pro tip: Schmaltz recommends coming as early as 7 p.m. to secure a space on the Town Square, but visitors can shop and snack until showtime, as movies don't start until after sundown.

July–August, Ohio Theatre

History: It's the series' 44th season, but don't look for big changes at the erstwhile Loew's movie palace. "Our big things with the summer movies is you're not coming to a movie; you're coming to an event," says CAPA programming director Rich Corsi, who points as evidence to the presence of ushers and intermissions, plus a half-hour organ concert. "That's the way it was back in the day."

The lineup: "Superman," "Roman Holiday," "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life"

Pro tip: Corsi says two favored spots in the Ohio Theatre are the left-center of the loge, with a great view of the organ, and 10 to 12 rows back in the center of the main floor. "You've got a dead-on view of the screen," he says.

July–September, Goodale Park

History: Entering its sixth year, this Short North-based event mixes movies with contests (trivia and costume), as well as prizes furnished by local businesses. "It was a suggestion by a board member of the Short North Civic Association who had seen it done in another city and thought it would be a fun neighborhood activity," says Short North Civic Association president Jeffrey Smith.

The lineup: They hadn't been chosen at press time, but Smith says the rotation invariably includes a movie for families, a cult classic and something campy.

Pro tip: Blankets, chairs and bug spray are musts, as is your appetite, Smith says. "We also have food trucks, so we encourage people to come early and have dinner or a snack."

May–July, North Market parking lot

History: This is the inaugural installment of an old-fashioned drive-in, complete with a 30-foot screen and piped-in audio for those who pull up in the North Market parking lot. "It'll be broadcast through a frequency on FM radio," says Rick Harrison Wolfe, executive director of the North Market. "Tune to the dial, and there it is."

The lineup: "Toy Story," "Ghostbusters," "Jaws"

Pro tip: The screening of "Toy Story" coincides with Gallery Hop, affording patrons a full night of cultural enrichment. Various North Market vendors will also provide concessions, including Holy Smoke Barbecue, Pam's Popcorn and Bubbles Tea and Juice Co.

June–August, Sunny 95 Park, Mountview Baptist Church and Thompson Park in Upper Arlington

History: One of the high points of this 10-year-old series is the drive-in screening (this year it's "Frozen") on the property of Mountview Baptist Church, but screenings are held all summer in Upper Arlington's parks. Between 200 and 300 spectators pull up chairs to watch movies on a 24-foot inflatable screen in Thompson Park. "It's very family friendly," says Mac Kinney of the City of Upper Arlington. "A lot of good community members are out and about, bonding together and hanging out in the park."

The lineup: "Frozen," "The Avengers," "The Lego Movie"

Pro tip: Part of the appeal for residents is enjoying the parks after their usual closing time. "It's kind of cool to a 12-year-old to be like, 'I'm going to the movies, Mom. I'm going to be out in the park until 11 o'clock,' " Kinney says.

July–August, Wexner Center for the Arts

History: Summer movie series are nothing new at The Wex-they have been hosting them since 1995, but in the last few years they have focused on bringing in world-cinema favorites. "It's a good way to show a lot of the new restorations, new [digital versions of movies], new prints that are out there in one fell swoop," says David Filipi of The Wex. Restorations of "Alphaville" and "Godzilla" are among those included.

The lineup: "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," "The Young Girls of Rochefort," "Nosferatu"

Pro tip: This year the Wex Drive-In component to the series includes 35mm screenings outdoors of "Mars Attacks!," "Bottle Rocket" and "Rear Window." "Lots of people bring folding lawn chairs and blankets," Filipi says, and you can bring your own food, though treats from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and Pam's Popcorn will be available.

June 13-Aug. 31, COSI Columbus

History: COSI has a screen like no other, featuring a projected image bigger than just about any other screen in the state (only the Air Force museum in Dayton has it beat). Oh, and there is also the sound-all 12,000 watts of it. "The experience is truly premium-the clarity and size of the image combined with the powerful detailed sound make it a theatrical experience unlike any other," says COSI marketing director Christine Hurtubise. This is the museum's sophomore year of showing science-fiction films, following an enthusiastic response last summer.

The lineup: A medley of fantastical favorites is in the works.

Pro tip: Hurtubise recommends pre- or post-movie eats and refreshments at nearby Milestone 229, Strongwater Food and Spirits or Rehab Tavern.