Entertainment

Let’s all go to the movies – at the airport

 

My ‘At the Airport’ column for USA TODAY this month is all about airports where travelers can watch movies.  All the time and on special occasions.

Here’s a slightly abbreviated version of that column:

In February, Oregon’s Portland International Airport hosted the official opening of a free microcinema on Concourse C.

A branch of the city’s historic Hollywood Theatre movie palace, the new Hollywood Theatre at PDX has a bright, 1920s-inspired neon marquee, seating for 17 (but capacity for 49) and a $200,000 state-of-the-art projection and sound system isolated from the roar of the planes and the shaking of the airport building.

The cinema replaces a rarely used post-security service center. Now, instead of sitting at work tables with power outlets, passengers can use this space to watch an hour-long reel of G-rated short films by Oregon filmmakers that will run around the clock and be refreshed quarterly.

The opening program reel includes the premier of an animated film, a music video, a documentary, mini-shorts about Portland by local film students and more than a half-dozen other features.

More airport cinemas

Portland International isn’t the only airport to offer movies to passengers who have a bit of extra time to spend at the airport.

At the end of 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport opened its “See 18” Screening Room near gate C18 to show short films, documentaries, music videos and art programming by Minnesota filmmakers and shot predominantly in Minnesota.

All films are under 10 minutes, run 24/7, are curated by The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul and are refreshed three time a year.

Elsewhere, Lithuania’s Vilnius Airport promotes its free ‘cinema hall’ showing work by Lithuanian filmmakers and there’s a Cinema Time screening room showing a wide variety of free films at the Vaclav Havel Prague Airport.

Terminal 3 – Transit – Movie Theatre – Interior

Singapore’s Changi Airport has two 24-hour movies theatres (in Terminals 2 and 3) offering free screenings of full-length movies for passengers, with a line-up that currently includes ‘Star Trek Beyond,’ ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses,’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings.’ And there are movie theaters selling tickets to recent films in the public areas of Hong Kong International Airport, South Korea’s Incheon Airport and a few others.

Special screenings  

Airports without dedicated film-screening spaces have dabbled with movies events as well.

While the Toronto International Film Festival was underway in 2010, passengers at Toronto Pearson International Airport could watch movie trailers from the festival in a pair of 10×10-foot pop-up screening rooms. Free popcorn was provided each night.

https://vimeo.com/14827161

For the past three summers, Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport has hosted an outdoor cinema to show blockbusters on a giant screen set up on a concourse rooftop, with wireless headphones for each moviegoer. The series returns in July with ten screenings.

During 2016, Denver International Airport showed free outdoor movies on the outdoor plaza between the main terminal and the Westin Denver International Airport as part of a “Film on the Fly” series.

No program is set yet for 2017, but the 2016 line-up included “Top Gun”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

And, at San Francisco International Airport, in Interim Boarding Area B, a selection from Laurie O’Brien’s Peephole Cinema features silent film shorts inspired by travel and the writings of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

Back to the Future

While an airport movie theater may seem like a fresh new amenity, the idea is far from brand new.

From the early 1950s into the mid-1970s, there was a ‘regular’ movie theater – the Skyport Cinema – showing first-run films at Pittsburgh International Airport.

And when the new Dallas/Fort Worth International airport opened in January 1974, “all the major airlines moved their operations there from Love,” said Bruce Bleakley, director of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, “That left a big empty terminal with only Southwest flying its 8-10 flights a day.”

In November 1975, a developer turned the terminal lobby into an entertainment center with three movie theaters, skating rinks, and other activities and called it the Llove Entertainment Center, said Bleakley, but the complex was closed by May 1978.

 

 

Happy Birthday CVG Airport

Happy Birthday, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport!

CVG began service on January 10, 1947 with an American Airlines flight and celebrated it’s 70th year of service on Tuesday with a party for passengers that included Gold Star coneys (hot dogs topped with chili, onions and mustard and grated cheddar cheese), small gifts and birthday cake.

The party doesn’t stop there, as part of  ‘Project Gratitude’, CVG promised to thank passengers with 70 surprise acts of gratitude throughout the year.

No clues on what those surprises will be, but CVG promises the act of gratitude with brighten travel days, enhance the travel experience and, of course, be documented and shared on social media.

 

 

Party at Pittsburgh Int’l Airport

PIT Trading card one

There’s a party going on at Pittsburgh International Airport this week, as part of a renewed commitment to celebrate the region’s local institutions, food, music and culture in the airport.

So far this week there’s been live music, visits by sports mascots, a display of (replica) Egyptian relics from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and a class in hieroglyphics. The Carnegie Science Center distributed liquid nitrogen ice cream, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum brought by some history displays and the Phipps Conservatory let passengers pot their own air plants.

The party continues today – Sept 15 – with a live African penguin from the National Aviary, button-making hosted by The Andy Warhol Museum, a steel drum band and free popcorn.

Andy Warhol Wallpaper at PIT

Friday, Sept. 16, the entertainment includes live reptiles from the Pittsburgh Zoo and a musical theater performance.

Sounds like fun!

Airport residencies: next big thing?

Brisbane orchestra

Courtesy Brisbane Airport

Airport residencies by cultural arts groups seems to be the next big thing.

Australia’s Brisbane Airport (BNE) just announced that a team from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) will be the newest Artist-in-Residence and will present six ‘pop-up’ performances in the international and domestic terminals, with three of these performances taking place before the end of the year.

Brisbane Airport started their Artist-in-Residence program last year and first up was Robert Brownhall, who created a series of works featuring different views of the airport.

Here in the United States, airport artist-in-residence programs are happening too. This year, the Fern Street Circus is in residence at San Diego International Airport, so keep an eye out for an unusual number of Bozos.

SAN CIRCUS snip

Courtesy SAN Airport

Bozos invade San Diego Int’l Airport

SAN CIRCUS snip

My At the Airport column for USA TODAY this month is all about the bozos -and the jugglers, plate spinners, musicians and other circus characters – that have moved into San Diego International as part of the airport’s new performing arts residency program.

“It’s not our usual venue,” said Fern Street Circus co-director John Highkin, co-director of San Diego’s Fern Street Circus – but when the call went out seeking applicants for the residency “we were intrigued with the idea of the airport as a community space and a place where circuses don’t usually happen.”

With monthly performances and weekly in-airport rehearsals and regular, unannounced interactions with passengers before and after security, the circus performers are proving that airports are a great place for circuses to happen.

But like a wire-walking act, choosing the right type of passenger interaction for an airport circus performer can be a delicate balance.

“We recognize that people come to airports with various frames of mind,” said Highkin. People travel for various reasons — some of them sad— and there’s the hectic phase of checking bags and getting through the checkpoints and, once past security, “the opportunity to be still.”

Pre-security, said Highkin, “we’ve figured out the most appropriate thing is for us to be playful and surprise passengers, but then let them move on.”

There are also plenty of rules and procedural issues a circus in residence at an airport has to go through and keep in mind.

Circus troupe members have to be fingerprinted, photographed (without clown make-up … ) and go through background checks and security training in order to be badged to enter secure areas of the airport and circus props must be thoroughly scrutinized by the TSA.

And no matter how impressive it looks, at the airport jugglers aren’t permitted to use fire, swords, cleavers or other sharp objects pre- or post-security.

During its residency, the Fern Street Circus is not only interacting with passengers at SAN Airport unannounced, it is holding weekly workshops and in-airport rehearsals.

Monthly performances of the circus’s new airport-centric work are scheduled for August 19, September 15 and – the grand finale – October 15.

Check the SAN Airport website for times and locations.

And don’t be surprised if you encounter more bozos than usual at San Diego International Airport.