Cinema La Placita Brings Downtown Together for Hollywood Classics

June 2, 2014

You've got a cheap date all summer long at Cinema La Placita.

You’ve got a cheap date all summer long at Cinema La Placita.

by James J. Jefferies

Movie-going of any stripe is really one of the last few bastions of regular communal activities that people engage in during our time. There’s just an inherently satisfying feeling that accompanies seeing other people queue up for the same film you’re excited about watching.

There’s an important social aspect to this that is otherwise completely absent from being bunkered up in your home, despite the excellence of our high-definition television screens, surround sound systems, and whatever of the bazillion potential methods of delivery one might choose to obtain whatever you plan on watching.

Erika O’Dowd has long had a passion for both films and the social experience they represent, and fifteen years ago, she sought to replicate the vibe she experienced at an outdoor screening in New York. “This really began as a way to just keep people Downtown together, to give people a place to go,” said O’Dowd.

There's a robust regular crowd, but you gotta got there pretty early if you want a shot at the catbird seat in the gazebo.

There’s a robust regular crowd, but you gotta got there pretty early if you want a shot at the catbird seat in the gazebo.

The idea of having a non-work hub that could allow for people to rub elbows with folks they might not otherwise was a quantity that was very much in need, especially during the very different times experienced in Downtown Tucson around the year 2000. Thus, Cinema La Placita was born.

Fifteen years later, Cinema La Placita is still going strong, having appeared on the Tucson Weekly’s Best of Tucson list three times within that span, and becoming a beloved local institution. For those who have never been, it’s a very simple event. A classic Hollywood film, for example, last week’s Howard Hawks-directed legendary screwball comedy His Girl Friday, is screened in the outdoor space at La Placita Village, at 110 S. Church Avenue (southwest corner of Broadway and Church) on Thursday nights during the summer.

Just a very chill backyard party atmosphere on a cool Old Pueblo evening in the summertime.

Just a very chill backyard party atmosphere on a cool Old Pueblo evening in the summertime.

 

The admission price is a steal, a mere $3 that also entitles you to all the popcorn you can eat! Your $3 also goes towards helping with the costs of putting Cinema La Placita on (there are exhibition fees to be paid for each film, among other costs). In terms of seating, white plastic lawn chairs are provided, and you’re welcome to bring your own lightweight lawn chair or a blanket.

The vibe is extremely friendly and mellow, and there was really a wide swath of Tucsonans who come out to catch a flick under the stars, from young couples and families to older folks and everyone in-between. At $3 a pop, it’s an awesomely laid-back way to spend a cool summer evening outside with your fellow Tucsonans, a potential cheap date, a way to view a Hollywood classic long forgotten, or all the above.

For more information on the slate of films to be screened the rest of the summer, please check out their website here. June is Hitchcock Month, with suspense classics such as The 39 Steps, Notorious, Rear Window, and Dial M for Murder slated for viewing! There’s a process for selecting these films in which you can vote online on the CLP website, so grab a bag of popcorn and get crackin’.


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