Rural Utah Project

Pop-up movies offered over summer across Utah

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Watch the full feature on KUTV.

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Families in small southern Utah communities who may want to keep socially distant over the summer have an option to enjoy “getting out” to enjoy some entertainment with pop-up movie theaters.

The Utah Film Center and Rural Utah Project have partnered to make movies available.

“Partners are coming out of the woodwork. People are saying, ‘Please, come to my community. Bring a drive-in (or) some sort of outdoor screening,’” said Mariah Mellus, managing director for the Utah Film Center.

She said the response to the pop-up drive-in movies has been good, especially when everyone had to switch gears during the pandemic.

“We made a pretty big investment last year into the equipment, to be able to do outdoor screenings,” said Mellus.

Organizers planned to offer roughly six drive-ins in June for rural areas, including communities in the Navajo Nation.

This drive-in, for some communities, is the first time people will be coming together again. It’s going to be emotional for many people.

Drive-ins have also been planned for late summer at more than a dozen locations in the Salt Lake City area.

“We want this film to be an event and allow people to come out, highlight and showcase their businesses, (and) get back to the messaging that they’re here, that they’re back in business or still in business,” said Mellus.

For small town families, the drive-ins provide a chance for them to enjoy watching films on a big screen. They may not normally have access to movie theaters like larger cities.

Madeline McGill with the Rural Utah project said for onlookers, watching the drive-in set up is fascinating.

“When they get there, they’ll see a massive 20-foot screen, and probably a bunch of people trying to pull it up at the same time,” she said.

What will likely fascinate attendees, McGill said, will be seeing the community coming together.

During the same time in the summer of 2020, hospitals were slammed with COVID-19 patients, and communities, including the Navajo Nation, were hit hard with coronavirus cases.

“This drive-in, for some communities, is the first time people will be coming together again. It’s going to be emotional for many people. It’s been lovely so far, and folks are really excited to say hello to each other again,” said McGill.

Some of the locations where drive-ins have been planned include Farron, Monument Valley, Bluff and Boulder County.

Click here for a link to the Utah Drive-In Films.

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