Local

Movies lured crowds to downtown, officials say

An outdoor showing of "Singin' in the Rain" kicked off the outdoor movie series in downtown Rock Hill. The series was so successful, organizers already are making plans for the next show times.
An outdoor showing of "Singin' in the Rain" kicked off the outdoor movie series in downtown Rock Hill. The series was so successful, organizers already are making plans for the next show times.

An outdoor movie series in downtown Rock Hill ended its inaugural run Friday on a sweet note -- and organizers already are making plans for the next show times.

About 300 people turned out Friday night for "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," the 1971 classic starring Gene Wilder.

A week earlier, an audience of 300 enjoyed cross-dressing Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe yuk it up in 1959's "Some Like It Hot."

The biggest crowd came in Week 3 of the five-week series, when 400 people relived the joy of "E.T. -- The Extraterrestrial" from 1982.

"The demographics were just great every single time," said Candy Randall, the city's downtown development manager. "There was just such good harmony going on. It really worked in driving people into downtown businesses. We definitely want to try to continue doing it."

The movies were shown on a 20-foot-wide projection screen at the newly renovated City Hall amphitheater. Among the observations from the first year:

• "Some Like it Hot" attracted more young adults than any other film.

• A few moviegoers told organizers they live in Rock Hill but had never visited downtown before.

• Bad weather didn't come into play, as all five shows stayed dry.

• Admission was $3, but many people showed receipts from downtown merchants to get in free.

• A drum circle performed before the "E.T." screening, using bongos and other types of drums.

"It was interesting to have that downtown, to draw you over to the space," said musician Ashley Peeples, whose band, The Heavy Sandwich, will play in the amphitheater at 8 p.m. Sept 12.

The next chance for a film comes Oct. 30 during the city's annual Boo-Ha-Ha festival. Food Lion is in talks to sponsor a Halloween-themed movie that would be shown in conjunction with a haunted trail and evening hay rides.

Another film is planned for December during the third annual ChristmasVille festival. The movie might start after the city's annual holiday parade, Randall said.

  Comments