BANGOR, Maine — For the 12th year in a row, Pickering Square, a bustling transportation hub during the day, will transform into a open-air movie theater at night.
River City Cinema is slated to start its annual free outdoor film series Friday, June 26, and this year, it will bring “music-filled” films to the square every Friday for six weeks.
According to its website , River City Cinema is a nonprofit organization working to bring diverse films to the Bangor region, educate the public about the history and art of film, and encourage filmmaking in northeastern Maine.
Gibran Graham, a volunteer with the group, said the summer film series started in 2003, thanks to a grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation that allowed the group to create a “cinema to go,” a portable digital theater with a collapsible 15-by-11 screen.
The group started the film series in Pickering Square because it was available space and in need of “positive activity,” Graham said. Since then, the series has grown and regularly draws between 250 and 400 people each week.
“I love it when people can embrace the summer film series. … It’s all about having fun,” Graham said about the attendees, some who come dressed in costumes related to the films each week.
These days, the organization is funded through a combination of donations from attendees and a major sponsorship from Bangor Federal Credit Union.
This summer also will bring the grand re-opening of another outdoor film venue — the Bangor Drive-In in Hermon. However, Graham said the he and others are not worried about it taking away from the downtown outdoor films because the experiences are different.
“[The summer film series] is free, it’s fun, it’s family,” he said. “It works because it’s different and it’s a fun thing to do.”
This year, there will be some type of pre-show entertainment for at least a couple of the films, but Graham said the details of what that might be are still being ironed out.
River City Cinema would eventually like to have a permanent multipurpose cinema center in downtown Bangor that would offer shows of first-run films and provide an opportunity for filmmakers to edit and screen films. It also would act as a venue for teaching the public about cinema through exhibits and hands-on demonstrations.
The summer 2015 films include:
— “Hairspray” (1988 version), June 26
— “Jailhouse Rock”, July 3
— “Saturday Night Fever, July 10
— “The Muppet Movie,” July 17
— “That Thing you Do,” July 24
— “Pitch Perfect,” July 31
Movies will start after sundown, usually about 8:30 p.m. Admission is free, but attendees should bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. Popcorn and concessions also will be available for sale, and Aug. 7 has been reserved for a rain date in case any of the films have to be canceled because of weather.
For more information about River City Cinema or this year’s films, visit rivercitycinema.org.