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A cinema enthusiast’s guide to a perfect summer movie night

By Alleah Boisvert

With warm weather right around the corner, students are daydreaming about all the activities they want to check off their summer bucket list. Something to consider adding to the list this summer is hosting an outdoor summer movie night. Cinema enthusiast Joe French weighs in on what makes the ideal summer movie night. French is the owner of Stony Plain’s Movie World, one of the last physical movie rental stores in Canada.

“There are not too many movie stores left around anywhere. I think there’s seven or eight left in Canada, one of which we have right here in Alberta, so it is a rare gem, and it’s a rare thing to do. This place is just a big ball of nostalgia at its core. [It’s] been here for 40 years,” said French.

In the age of streaming, movie nights lack that feeling of deliberate intention that comes with strolling down the aisles of a rental store. Scrolling through Netflix just doesn’t hit the same. Making an event out of choosing a movie to watch and planning the perfect night adds to the fun.

“[People] figure that summertime, we’re outside, we’re not watching movies, we’re not doing the movie night. That’s for winter and rain. But I do have a couple of my customers that now partake in the summertime movie night. They put their TV out on their patio or in their backyard and did a projector,” said French.

With his expertise, it’s no surprise that French recommended some great movies for a warm summer evening.

“My personal pick would probably include Jaws. I think that would be a classic drive-in vibe movie to just kick back and enjoy. Jaws would be number one.”

If the weather is extra hot, French suggests some chilling horror films  might do the trick.

“To go completely polar opposite of the summertime feel, I might even do something along the lines of The Thing or The Shining, where it’s a cold, snowy, isolated seclusion kind of movie, just to add a bit of juxtaposition to the summertime,” said French.

French also says that having like-minded people around is a factor when it comes to hosting a successful movie night. This makes for more interesting discussion and aligns the event with the intentional feeling that comes with picking out a movie. He also recommends the group pick a movie together.

“Another thing you could do directly after the film is just sit around and talk about it. What did you like about it? The cinematography, the directing or what the movie itself means to you, whether it’s one that you’re visiting from childhood, or a new movie that you’ve never seen before that nobody has seen and you’re all experiencing it for the first time,” said French.

Physical movie rentals often come with perks like bonus features that streaming services don’t usually offer, which can set a summer movie night apart. Movie World also offers digital codes, collectors’ items and serves up what French says is some of the best movie popcorn around. Although the trip to Stony Plain is out of the way for some, Movie World accommodates out-of-town customers with services like rental extensions.

“Without customers renting movies, buying movies and popping in here at least once a week, this place would not be here,” said French.

If you’re hosting a summer movie night, consider keeping Movie World in the loop by following their Instagram @movieworldstonyplain or Facebook. Movie World also has a GoFundMe that movie enthusiast students can donate to if they want to help this small business recoup after the difficulties of COVID-19. 

“More people need to realize you can still enjoy the family movie night and not be stuck inside and not feel like you’re wasting the summer weather.”

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