Every summer, Lansing totes out its projectors and lawn chairs to fill downtown with the sounds of “Willy Wonka,” “Space Jam” and the like, for outdoor movie screenings. Since 2011, Turner Street Outdoor Theater has been a local hotspot, screening family-friendly flicks in Old Town. But this year, on July 21 and 22, the theater is breaking the domestic summertime movie mold. It has a new schedule of risqué, 80s throwback films.
“We liked the festival momentum of doing things in days right next to each other,” said Payal Ravani, organizer of Turner Street Outdoor Theater. Instead of a few movies spread out over several weeks, the theater has packed a weekend full of evening showings in a partnership with the Lansing Public Media Center, the Capital City Film Fest and Such Video Inc.
“There are a lot of outdoor movie series in the summer,” said Ravani. “This year, we wanted to do something different. I wouldn’t say only for adults, but not just only for kids.”
With a two-day line up showcasing John Hughes’ cult classics “Sixteen Candles” on Friday and “Weird Science” on Saturday, Turner Street Outdoor Theater isn’t just for adults. Ravani doesn’t want to ignore anyone, but Hughes PG-13 classics aren’t exactly appropriate for kids of all ages.
“We want to do something special for people who don’t always want to bring their kids out with them every night,” Ravani said.
In addition to the feature films, local bands will perform before the screenings, enabled by the support of the Capital City Film Fest. Friday will see performances by Luxury Flux and Beat Loaf, while Saturday will host Lansing Locals Dirt Room and the Arrangement. Adding music to this year’s schedule was an easy choice, said Ravani.
“We can’t really start the movies until about 10 p.m. when it’s dark enough,” said Ravani. “So, we want to provide some entertainment and a reason to be outside in the summertime.”
If music isn’t your forte, there’s more than one reason to show up early. Local restaurants will stay open a little later to accommodate movie-goers, said Ravani.
“We’re encouraging attendees to have dinner in Old Town before coming over,” said Ravani, to support Old Town’s local businesses.
Pairing nicely with Hughes’ films, Ravani is also excited to showcase a few short films this year at Turner Street Outdoor Theater before the full-length features.
“We’ll be showing films that are featured during the Capital City Film Fest,” said Ravani. “They’ll be really quality stuff that we are really proud to show. They’re an important part of our line-up this year.”
And even if it rains, Turner Street Outdoor Theater will survive. With alternate rain-dates on July 28 and 29, to ensure that no one will miss out on their summer does of movies.
And even as the summer dwindles away and temperatures drop, the summertime outdoor screening will return to its hibernation until next year. But Turner Street Outdoor Theater will be back, said Ravani, who hopes it will be better than ever.
“There’s a strong chance we might add a third date or hopefully even a fourth day,” said Ravani. “People think it’s a blast and get to hang out, it’s late and its fun and it’s a great community event.”