As a veteran of four summers of classic movie programming, I can declare that this type of event is a great way to draw audiences in for the least economic risk to a newly renovated venue. My former theatre, a 1930 movie palace with 1,200 seats, has established a niche with its classic film programs both during the year and at some holidays (Halloween & Christmas), but it really shines during the summer months.

Our first season we featured a mix of several genres to see what drew the best audience (Westerns, Musicals, Drama, Sci-Fi, etc.) and kept rigid track of requests and turnout. Our following year we asked patrons to vote in advance for their top ten from a list of just under 100 films we compiled from AFI and other “best of” sources. The third year we featured classic monster films (Frankenstein, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon , Dracula, The Wolfman) and had great turnout. This summer we revisited some top 10 lists and came up with 9 films that we had not screened before but are classics. Films included;  ”The Searchers”, “The African Queen”, “The Great Escape”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “Bridge on the River Kwai” and others. We have had good attendance so far, and expect to finish the summer with a small profit.

Other perennial favorites of course include “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Casablanca”, Gone with the Wind”, and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” but you cannot show these films every year or you exhaust your audience.