PRESCOTT - Julie and Adam Medlin both have vivid childhood memories of sitting under the stars at vintage drive-in movie theaters, watching 1970s classics.
"We both grew up in that era - when we would pack up the station wagon and go to a movie," Julie Medlin said, adding that she remembers watching "Star Wars" at the drive-in, while her husband Adam has memories of viewing "Jaws" on an outdoor screen.
After they married, the Medlins wanted to bring some of that movie magic back by starting their own drive-in theater. They soon found, however, that getting the land for such a venture would be difficult.
Ultimately, the Medlins concluded that "realistically, we can't do this," Adam said. That led them to explore other options, he said. "We started looking into 'How else can you do this?'"
Their solution: the creation several years ago of Arizona Mobile Cinema, a company that provides portable screens in a variety of sizes for venues ranging from parks to swimming pool complexes to conference rooms.
This summer, communities around the tri-city area will benefit from the Medlins' efforts.
Parks and recreation departments in both Prescott and Prescott Valley are planning to collaborate with Arizona Mobile Cinema to offer an ambitious schedule of free outdoor movie events throughout the summer.
Prescott Valley's schedule will kick off on May 15, and Prescott's will begin on June 7. The two communities are gearing their programming toward family fare, including recently released cartoons, adventure flicks, and family dramas.
Both communities conducted test events in the summer of 2007, and officials from the parks and recreation departments report enthusiastic responses from their communities.
"People loved it; it was really very cool," Libby Reiman, Prescott's recreation supervisor said of the movies that Arizona Mobile Cinema showed at Heritage Park and Ken Lindley Field in the summer of 2007.
Brian Witty, director of Prescott Valley's parks and recreation department, reported a similar reaction to the movies that the town showed at its Civic Center.
"We had a great turnout," Witty said of the four 2007 movie events in Prescott Valley. "We had, easy, a couple of hundred people there."
This year, both communities will be expanding their movie programming dramatically.
Prescott will have 14 movies at its Watson Lake, Granite Creek, and Heritage parks, beginning on June 7 and ending on Sept. 6. And Prescott Valley will show 16 movies, all at the Civic Center, beginning on May 15 and running through Aug. 28.
Because of an arrangement in which Arizona Mobile Cinema gets sponsor-ships for the movies, neither community will pay for the movies.
"Arizona Mobile Cinema came to us with a proposal that they would find the sponsors to pay for the movies, and our contribution was to provide the facility," Reiman said. "With our budget being what it is this year, how can you lose?"
Reiman and Witty pointed out that the outdoor movies let families and individuals take advantage of free entertainment in a casual atmosphere.
Julie Medlin agreed. "It's wonderful for children, if they're little; it allows more flexibility," she said. "If Johnny wants to go run in the grass, sure."
Along with the movies, the events also will include presentations from various public officials, such as fire fighters, police officers, and sheriff's deputies. The Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary and local colleges also will be part of the line-up.
"We tried to match (the speakers) to the movie," Julie Medlin said.
The events will begin at about 6 p.m. with the speakers, and the movie will start at dusk, or about 8 p.m.
Currently, the Medlins say they are continuing to look for sponsors for the movies. While they have some, "We're certainly open to more sponsors," Julie said, adding that the sponsorships would provide a number of ways for business promotion, such as a pre-movie advertisement on the two-story-high screen.
Because of regulations with the movies' distributor, the Medlins say they cannot announce the names of the movies through the mass media. But a complete list of the Prescott and Prescott Valley movies is available at Arizona Mobile Cinema's Web site at www.azmobilecinema.com
For people who are hearing-impaired, Arizona Mobile Cinema will provide a separate screen with closed captioning.
Along with the events in the public parks, Arizona Mobile Cinema also is planning movie events at a number of other area venues, including the Prescott Gateway Mall, local schools, and at Chino Valley's Windmill Farms.
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