Sponsors, Volunteers Make Family Film Festival Possible
It’s summer time in North Vernon, and that means free movies at the Park Theatre Civic Centre. The 10th annual Family Film Festival starts there this week. Nine feature-length movies will be presented twice each Wednesday from June 4 through July 30. Admission for the showings, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each Wednesday, is absolutely free – thanks to the sponsors who pitch in to fund the series and the volunteers who staff the concession stand and serve as ushers. Doors open an hour before each movie.
“The kids go spastic over the free movies,” said Bill Reichenbach, ticket manager, maintenance man and jack of all trades at the downtown landmark located at 25 N. Madison Ave.
“After every showing, I’ll see some little guy come out of the theater with his eyes as big as saucers who will say to me, ‘Thanks, I sure liked that.’”
Parents and grandparents enjoy the films, too. “I tell the grandmas that we should charge them a baby-sitting fee for the two hours their children are in here,” Reichenbach said with a chuckle.
With over 100 sponsors, the nonprofit Park Theatre is able to present the Family Film Festival movies for free to the public.
“We couldn’t do this without our sponsors,” Reichenbach said. “Not only do a lot of businesses help with sponsorships, so do many individuals. We so greatly appreciate them.”
The movies aren’t free for the Park Theatre. It has to pay $250 or more for each of the nine films, plus shipping charges. In addition, a projectionist must be paid.
This will be the first year for the theater to present the Family Film Festival with its new digital projector and sound equipment. That equipment was installed last September.
“People seem to like the new equipment,” Reichenbach noted. “They say not only is the picture better, so is the sound.”
The first year of the festival, the free movies were shown only once each day.
“We had people packed in and hanging from the rafters, so we decided to add a second showing,” Reichenbach said.
“Last year, we averaged about 500 per day with around 250 at each showing. That was about perfect.”
The theater has a seating capacity of 300 for movies. There are around 50 more seats available for plays and concerts when the balcony is open.
Tickets are free but required for the Family Film Festival movies.
“We encourage people to get tickets ahead of time because we only have room for 300 at each movie showing,” Reichenbach said. “People can get tickets any time we are open, but we advise them not to get any more than they will use. And if they find out they don’t need all the tickets they got, we advise them to bring them back.”
Tickets are necessary, too, because the theater must report attendance to the Indiana Booking Service, the distributor of films shown there. Tickets are available during Park Theatre’s box office hours of 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Tickets are also available whenever the theater is open. Concessions are sold with special consideration for the children.
“The money we get from selling concessions helps us meet operating expenses,” Reichenbach said. During the Family Film Festival movies, the theater offers a Kiddie Combo refreshment package of a drink, small popcorn and bite-size candy for $2.
Reichenbach said the movies in this year’s festival are topnotch family entertainment. The films, all rated PG, include “Turbo,” June 4; “The Croods,” June 11; “Epic,” June 18; “Despicable Me 2,” June 25; “Escape from Planet Earth,” July 2; “Smurfs 2,” July 9; “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” July 16; “The Nut Job,” July 23; and “The Lego Movie,” July 30. “These free movies are good for the kids and quite a thing for the community,” Reichenbach added. “We are happy we can show them for free.”
For more information, contact the Park Theatre at 346-0330 or 346-4329.