After dark

posted by Michael Zoldessy on June 15, 2007 at 4:15 pm

Whenever I tell people where I’m going on a Saturday night, they’re a bit shocked. Of all the odd places to go to the movies, nothing quite turns head like the neighborhood cemetary.

Here in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Forever Cemetary has a summer film series, Cinespia, where each Saturday a crowd of mostly 20’s/30’s piles in and watches a film projected onto the side of their mausoleum. Food and alcohol is welcome and they even have a DJ there to spin records before the film begins after dark. The schedule is always filled with classic/cult films sure to please the riled up audience.

When I went for the first time a year ago, I honestly believed I would be one of 50 signing up for this odd event. Man, was I wrong. After waiting in a seemingly neverending line on Santa Monica Boulevard for who knows how long, I realized people may not mind going to the movies in a cemetary. In fact, over 1000 people show up each week and it regularly sells out.

For a good part of the L.A. moviegoing public, this is the thing to do Saturday nights. It’s not like you’re leaning back on headstones. In front of the mausoleum is a large empty lawn so it’s not as creepy as it sounds.

However, something about the whole setting really appeals to people. I’ve been trying to figure it out. I’ve been to a lot of outdoor movies, but none has ever seemed to consistently engage the crowd like Cinespia. People are looking for new ways to see old movies. The migration isn’t just bringing people into their homes either. Netflix started doing this popular film series a few years back, Netflix Live on Location, where they show films in setting associated with the films and there have been many others like it.

Whether it’s seeing a film for the first time in 70mm or in an interesting setting like a cemetary, nothing seems to please people like rediscovering a classic. With adventurous screenings, this can be accomplished.

(Thanks to Mayela Leang for graciously loaning out her lovely photograph.)

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Comments (11)

BobT
BobT on June 15, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Please tell me tell audience is sitting on a currently unoccupied piece of land.

Michael Zoldessy
Michael Zoldessy on June 15, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Yes, the lawn in front of the screen is completely empty.

Bway
Bway on June 15, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Probably a great place to see a horror movie!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 15, 2007 at 6:30 pm

All I can say is: wow.

efriedmann
efriedmann on June 15, 2007 at 6:36 pm

Oh, man, that’s great! Horror movies would be the only fitting feature to have there. Especially some classic black and whites like PSYCHO and any of the Universal Monster films.

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on June 16, 2007 at 10:36 pm

With all the famous folks planted there (Cecil B. DeMille, John Huston, Janet Gaynor, Peter Lorre, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr., Rudolph Valentino, Darla and Alfalfa, Tyrone Power, etc. etc.) coupled with the fact that this place backs up Paramount Pictures, film screenings seem only natural. However, films starring the famous residents seem most fitting. The building used for the screen houses Valentino, Peter Finch and others.

I have to admit that the opportunity to see “The Haunting” which is playing there next weekend is simply too tempting to pass up. However, “Fast Times at Ridgmont High” showing in July with a DJ spinning tunes seems just a bit bizarre.

LawMann
LawMann on June 17, 2007 at 1:46 am

Only in Los Angeles!

reluctantpopstar
reluctantpopstar on June 21, 2007 at 4:39 pm

Where else can you watch classic films with the people that were in them?

MPol
MPol on July 29, 2008 at 5:43 am

Movies in a cemetary—sounds cool!!

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 24, 2010 at 10:44 pm

At least the customers will not bother the residents.

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