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ILM’s Red Carpet: A host of area film series provide Wilmington with family-friendly fun

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The Cape Fear River area has a longstanding relationship with the film industry. Now that summer is upon us, Wilmington and the surrounding area has taken its love of film to greater lengths with a slew of series. Here’s a preview of where to relax and catch some great flicks—most of the time, outdoors and for free!

Locally shot “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” will screen on June 13 at the new Reel Wilmington Film Series held in Bailey Theatre Park.  Courtesy photo.

Locally shot “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” will screen on June 13 at the new Reel Wilmington Film Series held in Bailey Theatre Park. Courtesy photo.

The Reel Wilmington Film Series
Bailey Theater Park, 12 N. Front St.
6/13-7/11, 8:30 p.m. Free

Etched into the downtown framework on Front Street, the underutilized Bailey Theater Park has been a pet project for Wilmington Downtown Inc. (WDI) recently. In fall 2014, the space played host to jazz music on Monday nights and featured Keith Butler. Now, WDI has enlisted the help of Cape Fear Independent Film Network (CFIFN)—the folks behind the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival, taking place this week (pages 22-23)—to usher in The Reel Wilmington Film Series.

CFIFN originally took the idea of a downtown outdoor film series to Cool Wilmington, the organization that produces Rims on the River and The St. Patrick’s Day Festival each year. “Our plan was to show films with connections to Wilmington—either filmed here or had Wilmington residents involved with the production,” Rich Gehron, president of CFIFN, says. “If that wasn’t possible, we would show a film shot elsewhere in NC.”

The series was derived after the success of CFIFN’s film clips loop, which have played at the downtown Christmas tree lighting ceremony for the last three years. “That event got tremendous positive feedback, and the Downtown Business Alliance and WDI were looking for opportunities to utilize the empty space in front of the parking deck known as Bailey Theatre Park,” Gehron tells.

The festival lit up the screen for the first time on June 6, and showed the 2002 film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ tearjerker “A Walk to Remember.” Starring Mandy Moore and Shane West, the film utilized a variety of locales around Wilmington and Southport.

Their next showing will be this Saturday, June 13. “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” will bring a family-friendly adventure to the park. Much of the production’s filming took place on Stage 10 of EUE/Screen Gems Studios  in 2011. The stage encompasses 37,500 square feet and boasts one of the largest special-effects water tanks in North America, which helped secure the film’s presence locally.

“We hope to create a spirit of fun and pride with this series,” Gehron says. “It’s a way to celebrate all of the filmmaking that has taken place in Wilmington, the greater Cape Fear area and the state of North Carolina. We want to honor the people and the places that have been a critical part of this huge industry. Hopefully, it reminds the public how important filmmaking is to Wilmington and how important Wilmington is to film.”

Screenings are free and begin at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Folks can bring their own folding chairs and snacks, and sit back and enjoy the show.

6/13: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island • PG

6/20: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles • PG-13

6/ 27: Super Mario Brothers PG

7/11: Talladega Nights PG-13

Movies in the Park
Leland Municipal Park, 102 Town Hall Dr.
6/13-7/11, 8:30 p.m. Free

Beginning in 2007, the Town of Leland upstarted their own answer to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Armed with aspirations to eliminate a drive over the bridge for citizens of Leland to get a little fun and family entertainment, the Movies in the Park Series was one of the Parks and Recreation Department’s first project.

“It has grown from several dozen attendees back to 300-plus per movies today,” Amy Ryan, recreation specialist for the Town of Leland, details. “[There have been] so many we have had to readjust the screen positioning to accommodate the crowd.”

The film series aims to combat pricey costs of the traditional movie theater. All screenings are free. “Many of the people who come out may not have the financial ability or desire to take their family to the movie theater with $12 tickets and $8 concessions,” Ryan informs. “This gives those people the ability to have a nice evening out with their family and neighbors in the community.”

Maintaining a G-rated atmosphere, the film series strives to program the hottest animated hits of the past year. This year’s series kicked of with “The Boxtrolls,” a colorful hit about a young orphan boy’s adventures, on May 2. The series continues this Saturday, June 13, with the 2014 remake of “Annie,” starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis.

Screenings take place at Lelan Municipal Park (102 Town Hall Dr.) and begin at dusk. Blankets, lawnchairs, and picnics are encouraged; however, pets, smoking and alcohol are prohibited. Folks also can nosh on reasonably priced concessions.

6/13: Annie PG

6/27: The Lego Movie PG

7/11: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day PG

Sunday Night Movies at the Lake
Carolina Beach Lake
6/14-9/6, 8:45 p.m. Free

As always, The Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Carolina Beach will be bringing back their famed family-friendly fun every Sunday around Carolina Beach Lake. All movies start at dusk and concessions are sold; however, folks are allowed to bring their own food and drink, as well.   

6/14: Paddington G

6/21: Annie PG

6/28: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory G

7/5: Dolphin Tale 2 PG

7/12: Into the Woods PG

7/19: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 PG

7/26: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb PG

8/2: The Boxtrolls PG

8/9: Beethoven PG

8/16: Big Hero 6 PG

8/23: Hook PG

8/30: Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation G

9/6: Cinderella PG

Northeast and Main Library Movie Series
Northeast Regional Library
1241 Military Cutoff Rd.
Main Library (downtown), 201 Chestnut St.

Film and books often go hand in hand. They inspire each other, and both mediums hold the unique trait of taking people through other perspectives and dimensions. As such, it seemed a no-brainer for the Northeast Regional Library (1241 Military Cutoff Road) and downtown’s Main Library (201 Chestnut St.) to showcase movies all summer long. Programmed by Julie Criser, the Main Library offers flicks for kids on Fridays at 2 p.m. from June 19 to August 7 (with the exception of July 3). Linda Clover has culled a collection of hits for kids to be shown on Wednesday at 3 p.m. between June 17 and August 5.

“Their goals include building a habit of lifelong learning and library use by offering free, family friendly activities for children during summer vacation,” Dorothy Hodder,  senior librarian, says. “They often pick movies based on classic kids’ books.”

Adding to the entertainment, the Northeast Regional Library offers films for adults at 2 p.m. the second Sunday of each month. “Teresa Bishop programs the series, as part of the library’s contribution to the cultural life of the community,” Hodder elaborates.

For a full list of screenings, visit their online calendar at

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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