A few things we learned at yesterday's Film on the Rocks screening of
1. Office machines are no match for blunt instruments. Not the printer in the parking lot and not the fax machine on stage, and that was all before the movie even started.
2. People hate their jobs. The cheers for lines like, "I don't like my job, and I don't think I'm gonna go anymore," were about more than cult movie fandom. They were a call-to-arms for a revolution that people will only ever dream of.
3. For whatever reason, Film on the Rocks cannot miss. Nearly 10,000 people paid either $10 or $12 to see a movie everyone already owns.
It wasn't always like this. The series is now in its tenth season, and crowds only averaged 3,000 until the summer of 2005, when things started to click. The right films, the right bands, the right target audience. Monty Python and the Holy Grail did really well that year, as did The Princess Bride and Goonies. Comfort food movies. Spikes in attendance became plateaus in the next few seasons, and now, "It's really over the past three seasons kind of become that summer thing that you do," says Denver Film Society Interim Director Britta Erickson.
The location helps as well. Red Rocks is a hell of a venue on a summer night. It's far enough away from the city to feel like an escape, high enough on the hill to offer a religious experience of a view, and the landscape only seems more impossible with each return visit. Red Rocks is the star of these shows, and Film on the Rocks is great partly because it knows that.
Here's how the night could go: You come early and hang out in the parking lot with your friends, drink a couple cheap beers and maybe light up the grill. Then wander into the amphitheater, where it's live music at 7 p.m. and a comedian at 8 p.m.; the former is pleasant, and the latter is tolerable. Buy some hemp ice cream from the dude with the long white beard or try to win that Xbox they're giving away.
When the sun sets and the city lights come alive, things kick off with an episode of Looney Tunes. This is one of those charming details your friends were sure to include when they told you about Film on the Rocks. Everyone cheers. Looney Tunes will never be more amusing than when it's screened in front of a contented mob.
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The film starts. No previews, no commercials (though the corporate sponsorship is aggressive at all other times throughout the evening), and the crowd cheers again. For the next two hours, everyone's a kid in Disneyland.
The exodus begins about ten minutes before the movie ends, but what's the rush? Take your time. Wander around the park for fifteen minutes until someone tells you it's time to leave, and take the long way back to your car. Are you really so ready to get back to the real world?