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There is nothing quite like a good summer movie. Taking the kids for an air-conditioned afternoon of superheroes saving the world or sharing popcorn on a first date watching an indie arthouse film can feel magical. Movie theaters provide a great escape and hours of entertainment on long hot summer days and sticky evenings. They add a little magic and fantasy to our serious world and bring diverse groups of people together to laugh, cry, and cheer in unison.

This summer, things are a little different. A worldwide pandemic has forced many theaters to remain closed (or close their doors permanently) for the summer months. As COVID-19 continues to change the way we go about our daily lives, it is also changing the way we view movies.

Luckily, movie fans and business owners are a resourceful and creative bunch who won’t let anything stand in their way of bringing movie magic to their community.

Here are 3 ways you can enjoy your favorite films with your loved ones and neighbors this summer

Time Travel to The Drive-In

The pandemic has forced many theaters to remain closed but has revived a classic viewing experience. The Drive-In invokes feelings of nostalgia, of wholesome America, of “simpler” times when families, rambunctious teenagers, and young couples flocked to a parking lot to enjoy a cinematic experience from the comfort of their very own vehicles. During these not-so-simple times, drive-ins across the country are reopening to provide much needed 2 – 4-hour blocks of entertainment and escape from the chaos. This is the perfect opportunity to revisit your childhood favorite films like The Goonies and Indiana Jones or introduce your children to a technology once of the verge of extinction while watching summer blockbusters like Jumanji and Sonic The Hedgehog. Plus, this is the safest way to catch a movie outside your home while practicing social distancing!

Reopening Local Theaters

While major theater chains like AMC and United have not opened all their houses across the country, many smaller or locally-owned theaters are reopening and adjusting the way they do business to keep audiences safe and employees working! Many theaters are opening at 50% capacity, reserving seats to allow for social distancing, playing old films as new films are not available, and going the extra mile to keep the house clean and sanitized for your safety. Catching a showing of the classic Casablanca is a great way to support local businesses and help to keep workers employed during an economic crisis. Plus, it’s the best way to get your fingers on that extra buttery theater style popcorn!

The Power of Projection

And finally… on to my favorite idea: projecting movies! I know, I know, it sounds like a hassle to set-up. You may need to purchase some equipment and spend a half-hour quietly cursing at the instructions, but nothing can bring families, neighbors or couples together like projecting your fan favorite films! It is an easy way to invite others to join you or have a small block party while enforcing safe social distancing.

I first heard about this awesome idea when I read an article about a Denver couple who met on a dating App who watched a movie he projected outside his home. What a creative date! Then I noticed my neighbors started inviting a small group of people over every week to have a mini movie party in their backyard! Pretty soon subdivisions and apartment communities got on board with this new trend having residents RSVP to screenings set up in the common areas. This is such a fun and simple way to allow people to come together safely during such difficult times.

The world may be massively different in 2020 than it was last summer, but movies continue to bring people together in unique and creative ways. Despite restraints, despite Safer-At-Home restrictions, despite a deadly pandemic, people who felt isolated, alone and afraid now have more ways to gather safely and experience their favorite films with their friends. This is the magic of movies.

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By Dani Lyman