Starting this week, Friday night is movie night in downtown Raleigh.
The new PNC Downtown Raleigh Movie Series features outdoor screenings in City Plaza, along with food trucks, local craft beers and opening musical acts.
The film series, sponsored by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, promises to transform City Plaza into “the living room of Raleigh.” All events in the series are free and open to the public. The series will run every Friday night though the end of June, with movies starting at dusk.
The series’ first feature presentation, the immortal 1987 romantic drama “Dirty Dancing,” kicks off the year’s theme: Each film in the series was filmed in whole or in part within the state of North Carolina.
Future films in the series include “Iron Man 3,” “The Hunger Games” and “Talladega Nights.” For the series’ final presentation, the DRA will work with Durham’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival for a free screening from this year’s festival.
DRA communications director Lacie Lindstaedt said the summer film series was actually inspired by a previous seasonal program.
“We had a movie screen at the Winterfest program a few years ago, and it worked out so wonderfully we thought we should create a movie series in the summer,” Lindstaedt said.
Prepared for a crowd
To accommodate the large crowds expected for the screenings, event organizers will use a 30-foot-high-by-50-foot-wide inflatable screen with a rear projection system.
“That’s to prevent people shadows,” said Frank Bloom, special events manager for the DRA. Each screening will also feature three or four food trucks, a beer tent and live music starting around 5 p.m.
Some limited seating will also be provided, Bloom said.
“In fact, we just loaded them off the truck about an hour ago,” Bloom said. “We have about 250 folding chairs provided by Red Hat. Those will be first-come first-serve, but there will be plenty of space for people to bring their own chairs as well.”
Food trucks and beer
Among the food trucks invited for the initial run of films: American Meltdown, Cross Roads Kettle Corn, D’Burritos, Humble Pig, Kona Ice, The Pit and the delightfully named sandwich vendor Baguettaboutit.
Craft breweries include Raleigh Brewing, Crank Arm Brewing and the Aviator Brewing Company. Additional food and drink vendors will be added as the series progresses.
“We’re just trying to give people something to do on Friday nights,” Bloom said. “A lot of times with the Plaza, you’ll notice on Wednesdays the farmers market is going gangbusters, during the summers you’ve got the various music series going on. Fridays seems to have been a dead spot for us. We thought this was the best option, a date-night, movie-night kind of thing.”