Local Life

Movies offer escape from heat and traditional fare

Theaters have something for all tastes in series events

Posted 7/16/18

The summer months are some of the busiest of the year for the major movies studios — it’s when they release the bulk of their massive blockbuster films, and audiences eager to escape the summer …

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Local Life

Movies offer escape from heat and traditional fare

Theaters have something for all tastes in series events

Posted

The summer months are some of the busiest of the year for the major movies studios — it’s when they release the bulk of their massive blockbuster films, and audiences eager to escape the summer heat flock to the cool dark of the theater.

But face it, a good portion of these summer films are subpar at best. Luckily, there are options for those looking for a movie experience that has a little more to offer — film series.

“Our mission is to develop opportunities for diverse audiences to discover film through creative, thought-provoking experiences,” said Kevin Smith, marketing director with the Denver Film Society, a nonprofit that works to engage people in a lifelong relationship with the medium. “A primary goal for our series and festivals is to build upon the communities around different subjects, ideas, and cultures.”

The film society is part of several film series all over the metro area during the summer. Perhaps the most famous is the Film on the Rocks series at Red Rocks, which includes crowd favorites like “The Goonies” and recent hits like “Black Panther.”

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science also gets in on the fun with its Sci-Fi Film Series. As the title implies, this series screens genre fiction films like “Blade Runner 2049” and “Annihilation,” and pairs them with presentations by museum scientists and Vincent Piturro, English and film professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

“We’re able to have a discussion after the movie about the filmmaking and then our scientists are able to talk about their area of expertise in relation to the movie,” said Dr. Steve Lee, a space scientist at the museum, who has participated in the series when space-related movies have been shown. “Our goal is to get people talking about what they’ve seen and there’s always an interesting discussion. It’s a fun way to make people a little more aware of how science impacts their daily life.”

Even Denver’s most famous bookstore, the Tattered Cover, taps into the power of films to tell stories through series hosted in partnership with the film society. These films are selected by Howie Movshovitz, director of film education at the College of Arts and Media at the University of Colorado-Denver and are often foreign or classics from the medium’s history.

“There are no themes or anything like that I’m thinking about when I select films for the series,” Movshovitz explained. “I like introducing people to films they haven’t seen and have a good conversation after. It is important to me that we don’t lose the habit of talking about movies.”

Over the years, even chain theaters have discovered the draw of screening classics. AMC theaters host Fathom Events screenings and Harkins Theatres, like the newly opened location in Olde Town Arvada, have Tuesday Night Classics at 7 p.m. every week for just $5.

The Alamo Drafthouse, with locations in Littleton and Sloans Lake, takes a blended approach — they have genre film series like The 37th Chamber (kung-fu) and Graveyard Shift (horror) that screen rare movies most aren’t aware of, but they also have event screenings where filmmakers participate in discussions afterwards. The theater has hosted notables like Bryan Cranston, director Rian Johnson and Macaulay Culkin, who was in town on July 18 for a screening of “Big Trouble in Little China.”

“Sometimes there’s an anniversary or something culturally or politically important happening that leads to a screening,” said Steve Bessette, creative director with Alamo Denver. “There are so many ways to watch movies, but streaming something on your couch and experiencing it with other people in a theater are totally different things.”

In the end, all these different movie series are ways for people to experience new things in an art form that has been around for more than a century.

“I hope these movies find a way to get audiences,” Movshovitz said. “I like the fact that there are options for people to come to a theater in a group and have a dream together.”

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