Movies on the Lawn hoped to grow amid budget cuts

Students have sat on grassy patches of USF every Wednesday for nearly 17 years to watch films as part of the Movies on the Lawn program.

That tradition will feature a few changes this semester, as movies will be shown every other week, said Sam Filkins, graduate adviser for Movies on the Lawn.

“It helps save our budget, but we can hopefully get a bigger turnout because we can get more big movies,” Filkins said.

The movies will be shown on alternating Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the Martin Luther King Plaza lawn with free popcorn and soda, provided the weather cooperates.

There will be a total of 15 movies shown over the school year: seven in the fall and eight in the spring.

The lineup started the first week of classes with Iron Man. Other movies will include Sex and the City, Incredible Hulk, Baby Momma, Rent and Hancock.

“Even though there are fewer movies this year, our goal is to encourage more students to attend Movies on the Lawn. A way of making that happen is letting students choose the movies they would most like to see,” said Samantha Radaelli, student director for Movies on the Lawn. “Our Movies on the Lawn lineup this semester has been chosen by the students themselves through surveys we had given out during the summer.”

Another survey will be done to select movies for the spring semester.

“The only movie that was not chosen (by the students) was Rent on Nov. 5, due to a collaboration we are having with Hoops of Hope and Student Health Services for AIDS Awareness,” Radaelli said.

Though the annual tradition of showing Rent to educate students about HIV and AIDS will remain, the Marshall Student Center provides a new twist to seeing the flick — and others this semester — should it be shown in inclement weather.

Rained-out movies will be screen in the Marshall Student Center’s ballroom, Filkins said.

Next semester, such movies will move to the new theater in the Marshall Student Center, which is expected to open the last week in September, said Joseph Synovec, director of the center.

The theater has a high-definition projection system as well Dolby sound and seats 710 people.

The theater has about 450 seats on the first floor and about 260 seats in the balcony, Synovec said.

An average of 300 students attend a Movies on the Lawn on a given night and this attendance increases for blockbusters and special events, according to the USF traditions Web site.

“The idea is to refresh for a moment from studying and let your mind wander,” Radaelli said. “Not think about situations in your life that are frustrating you, just calm down and immerse yourself in a new world.”

Movies on the Lawn is funded by Activity and Service Fees through Student Government.