Moonlight and movies

Stars on stars on stars

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Given the sheer number of movie screens you’ll find in this town, it’s pretty easy to conclude that Bellingham and its surrounding environs are a movie-going region. Although business at our more traditional movie houses takes a bit of a hit when the weather turns sunny, it isn’t long before theater seats fill once again with those seeking a little air-conditioned escapism.

But if you’re of the ilk that prefers not to leave the semi-balmy open air for any reason during the too-fleeting days of summer, options are available that will allow you to scratch your silver-screen itch, all without leaving the comfort of the Great Outdoors.

Now in its 15th year of what has become the beloved tradition of showing movies on the 30-foot painted screen at Fairhaven’s Village Green is the Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema. This year’s season of Saturday-night movies runs from June 21-Aug. 23, and along with dates and location, you may find a few other bits of information to be pertinent. First, those attending are empowered to provide their own seating, whether that means pulling up a patch of green or setting up an elaborate living-room-style setting. Anything goes as long as you don’t hog up too much space or block the views of anyone else. Admission is still just $5, and includes the movie, preshow entertainment and the chance to win fame and glory (i.e. prizes). For the first time, Chow Hot Dogs will also be on hand every week to peddle their delicious dogs. For all you devoted Friends of FOC, it’s probably worth a mention that this season will be the last for longtime Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema first mate and right-hand man Joe Olmstead (or so he claims), so be sure and shower him with praise and accolades at every opportunity.

As well, the Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema isn’t just about the movies—like so many other entertainment options in this region, the film series has a strong musical component to it as well. With each movie comes preshow entertainment courtesy of local musicians, dancers, sci-fi geeks, jugglers, etc. That means when you show up early for Goonies during opening night on June 21, you’ll be treated to rock from the ever-more-impressive high-schoolers of Odd Ones Out. Amber Darland will perform June 28, and I’m hoping she’s readying her best version of “Let It Go,” because it seems like a requirement given the evening’s cinematic entertainment is Frozen. The weeks after will see the juggling contingent One Fine Fool open for Hunger Games: Catching Fire (July 26), while the audience should prepare to have its geek cred tested by sci-fi trivia happening before Star Trek into Darkness (Aug. 16).

Along with the movie’s I’ve mentioned above, this year’s series will also feature kid-friendly hits such as Finding Nemo (July 12) and The Lego Movie (Aug. 9), gems of ’80s goodness like Footloose (July 19) and The Princess Bride (Aug. 23), a proven outdoor cinema staple. Without a doubt the year’s most meta (stars and stars under the stars?) offering—as well as its most polarizing one—is Gravity (July 5), a movie I was once publicly booed for liking (I’m mostly over it. Really). As always, shows start at dusk and rain cancels, so pay attention to the weather and the Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema’s regularly updated Facebook page.

But Fairhaven isn’t the only place you’ll find al fresco movies this year. The same person responsible for the films on the Village Green, Doug Borneman and his company Epic Events, will also turn a parking-lot in the Birchwood neighborhood into a drive-in theater on July 11 and Aug. 8. It’s their second year producing this cinematic throwback jam, and the endeavor involves a giant inflatable screen, and the miracle of modern technology that allows one to listen to a movie in their vehicle via an FM signal (speakers will be on hand for you alternative transportation types in the audience). The films chosen for this year’s Birchwood Drive-In Movies are Despicable Me 2 and the ever-popular Back to the Future. The drive-in takes place in the Park Manor parking lot on the corner of Birchwood and Northwest. Best of all, it’s free, thanks to fine folks of Park Manor and the Birchwood neighborhood.

Last on the list of this year’s outdoor movie-going opportunities is whatever the Pickford Film Center has up its always-inventive sleeve. Lest we forget, they are the originators of outdoor cinema in Bellingham, and the nonprofit still likes to keep its hand in the game by staging a yearly Bike In on Bay Street. Word around the ticket counter (I work there as a projectionist. I hear things) has it that exciting things are potentially afoot on the open-air movie front, but it would be a risk of my hard-earned employment security to divulge that which has yet to become reality.

Suffice it to say, when it comes to a movie screen in this town, seek and ye shall most certainly find—even if you don’t intend to come indoors until autumn.

Information about the Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema and Birchwood Drive-In Movies can be found at For more info about the Pickford, see

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