Summer Cinema Series to show more movies than ever before


Yanchao Zhao The Daily Illini

Students leave the screening of “Peter Rabbit” at Illini Union on Thursday, June 31. “Peter Rabbit” was the start to Illini Union’s Summer Cinema Series, which will showcase a new movie each Thursday night over the summer.

By Yanchao Zhao, Staff Writer

This summer, the Illini Union Board will hold its traditional outdoor cinema series on the Main Quad at 9 p.m. every Thursday. The movies will be blockbuster films selected by a professional committee.

“This series has been running since at least the summer of 2000. At the time, only one movie a month was shown. Last summer, we increased those showings to three times a month during the summer. This summer, we’re showing one every Thursday until Aug. 9,” said Erik Riha, director of marketing at Illini Union, in an email.

The Union has already prepared a fairly large, portable inflatable screen and portable sound system and be moved inside if weather permits.

The Illini Union has posted the movie list on its website. There will be 12 movies shown this summer. The list includes action movies like “Black Panther,” “Pacific Rim 2” and “Ready Player One,” comedy movies like “Overboard” and “I Feel Pretty” and suspense thrillers like “A Quiet Place” and “Breaking In.”

“Most of the movies are selected by the members of the Films and Weekend Entertainment Committee of the Illini Union Board before they head home for the summer break. They try to select movies that they anticipate are going to be big blockbusters when they’re released in theaters,” Riha said.

The committee picks movies that usually do well, like Marvel movies and Pixar movies. What would appeal to students also usually get heavier consideration, Riha said.

Riha said there are two criteria for the series: The movie has to be out of theaters by the time the Union shows it and the movie usually is not available on DVD/Blue-Ray yet.

In former years, the Summer Cinema Series attracted attendees from a variety of groups.

“Attendance is usually dependent on the popularity of the movie being shown. We’ve had as high as 480. The series is open to the entire community, both on- and off-campus and we often see a pretty good mix of both,” Riha said.

Several movies being shown are rated PG-13. As many families from the C-U area will come to this event with their children, it may present problems. However, Riha said it’s a necessary balance between favors of different groups of audience.

“The board tries to balance those things out when making their selections. Most movies will be PG or G, but sometimes there will be PG-13 or, on rare occasions, R rated movie. Out of respect for parents and their children, we will not select movies that we know have overt sexual content, excessive strong language and gratuitous violence,” Riha said.

Riha said it’s up to the parents to check out the movie before coming to see it.

“Our advice would be for parents to learn as much about a movie before coming to see it. Ratings and reviews for each of the films we are showing are available online. In most cases, the entire plot of the films can be found online as well.  Parents should research all of that information and then decide whether they feel a specific movie is one they want to bring their children to,” Riha said.

Last Thursday, the first movie of this series, “Peter Rabbit,” was shown. Due to the bad weather, the movie was shown indoors in the Union. However, more than 80 audience members came to see this family-friendly cartoon. Many of them are families in Chambana.

“I enjoyed this movie very much,” said Shan Huang, a graduate student in LAS. “I’m a fan of ‘Peter Rabbit.’ It’s a good chance for me to watch it again and I may pick up several movies I missed in the semester through this chance. I’m taking a summer course now, so having something to do in the evening is not bad.”

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