airport movies

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.

 

 

Movie theater opens at Portland Int’l Airport

It took more than three years to make it happen, but on Thursday the marquee lights at the Hollywood movie theater inside Portland International Airport were switched on and a series of short films by Oregon artists began to play.

The mini-cinema has less than 20 seats but, with standing space, has room for more than 40 people to enjoy the hour-long selection of films that will be shown round-the-clock and refreshed quarterly.

Hooray for Hollywood!

 

 

See the “E.T.” film for free at Denver Int’l Airport

ET IMAGE

How’s this for a perfect match.

On August 18, as part of its “Film on the Fly” series, Denver International Airport (DEN) will host a free screening of Steven Spielberg’s classic film, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” on the airport’s open-air plaza between the main terminal and the Denver Westin International Airport hotel

Starting at about 5:30, there will be music, raffle prizes and a performance of live bike stunts on the plaza (to get folks in the mood for E.T.’s famous ride).  The movie will begin showing at sunset.

I attended last month’s “Film on the Fly” offering – “Top Gun” – at DEN airport and had a great time. In addition to local residents who came by for the music and the movie, some passengers waiting for flights joined the audience, as well as airport employees on breaks or on their way home from work.

More information about this and other free events on the DEN airport plaza here.

Silent movies showing at Miami Int’l Airport

MIA SILENT FILMS 2

Here’s a great amenity for an airport: silent movies!

This summer, Miami International Airport is hosting a Pop-Up Cinema showing classic early films.

Weekly screenings – there’s one scheduled for today – will take place in surprise locations throughout the airport.

Last week a Buster Keaton movie was shown. Today: Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie – from 1928.

MIA SILENT FILMS Keaton

The films are coming to MIA Airport courtesy of Obsolete Media Miami (O.M.M.), a repository for 35 mm slides, archival motion picture films and materials, and other legacy media and a resource for artists. designers, filmmakers – and now also passengers stuck at the airport.

Outdoor movies – at the airport.

The amenities at Singapore’s Changi Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and the Incheon International Airport in Seoul include movie theaters.

IMAX at Hong Kong Airport - mock up

Hong Kong Int’l Airport has an IMAX theater

But those are indoor movie theaters.

In what we hope will be a regular feature, last weekend Germany’s Düsseldorf International (which recently adopted a parking robot) offered visitors a chance to see an outdoor movie at the airport.

DUS MOVIE

The one-night cinema had seats for over 700 people and was set up on the airport’s outdoor observation deck.

On Saturday night the German comedy “Nicht mein Tag” was shown. On Sunday, it was James Bond in “Skyfall”.

Moviegoers had perfect outdoor moving-watching weather and, as a bonus, could see airplanes landing and taking off just behind the screen.

And, to make sure everyone could hear the soundtrack, wireless headphones were passed out.

DUS MOVIE 3

DUS MOVIE 2

(Movie photos courtesy of Dusseldorf Airport)