After they've been cooped up all winter, the last thing Canadians want to do when the sun finally shines is head inside – so it's no wonder outdoor movies have taken off across the province.
In fact, they have experienced such a boom that, on a busy Tuesday night at the Chevron Cinema Series in Stanley Park, as many as 8,000 people turn out to take in al fresco flicks from Footloose to Frozen, and from The Lego Movie to The Princess Bride.
And since the advent of inflatable screens, which are easily portable and take hours to set up rather than days, more outdoor movie nights are popping up in parks, on beaches, and at community centres around B.C., from Victoria to Prince George, and from Osoyoos to Golden.
"There's just something magical about being outside under the moon and the stars in a very large park setting – and it's a very social atmosphere as well," says Jason Bashnick, who co-founded FreshAirCinema, the company behind many of the screenings, with his two brothers nine years ago. "So it's very different than a traditional movie theatre."
Also decidedly different are some of the sights that Mr. Bashnick has seen over the years, among them a group of guys who arrived with a living room sofa to sit on, and even a skunk that wandered into the crowd at Stanley Park in 2013.
"I was standing on the outside edge watching the movie and all of sudden I see all of these people up and scrambling," says Mr. Bashnick with a laugh. "It was like the Red Sea parting." (The skunk, mercifully, did not spray.)Because of the popularity of the events – 150 of them across B.C. this summer alone – the FreshAirCinema co-owner recommends that people arrive early to get a prime spot, bring a blanket or chairs along with some food and a Frisbee, and enjoy the summer evening before watching a film in the great outdoors.
"When June rolls around and the weather starts getting nice, people just want to be outside. And Vancouver is a very outdoor community as it is," says Mr. Bashnick, who started the company after going to an outdoor film and falling in love with the experience. "So when you can get outside and watch a movie under the stars, people are going to take advantage of that every second they can."
Outdoor movies are happening across B.C. all summer. Screenings this weekend include Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery at Canada Place, Despicable Me 2 at the North Vancouver City Library, The Lego Movie at Clayton Park in Surrey and more. For full listings visit facebook.com/OutdoormoviesBC/events.