Rooftop Cinema Club premieres 2021 season
After canceling the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rooftop Cinema Club is back with a full lineup of classic and beloved movies — all screened in a fun, outdoor setting.
Films like “The Princess Bride” and “Pulp Fiction” are screened on the roof of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego.
This year, the space has expanded to ensure proper social distancing. Guests are invited to arrive early to enjoy the city views, play games, take photos and grab a cocktail. Food is also served and the menu includes charcuterie boards, pretzels, nachos and, of course, movie staples like popcorn and candy.
Some screenings include interactive elements like a costume contest or a sing-along. While most screenings are limited to guests over age 18, some special family-friendly films are also being offered this year.
Rooftop Cinema Club was founded in London in 2011 by Gerry Cottle Jr. , who said he started the company to combine his love of film and his love of events. He wanted a place where he could enjoy classic films on a big screen while enjoying a beer or cocktail and being with friends.
“Stuff like ‘Top Gun,’ ‘Back to the Future,’ all those kinds of films – I was born in ’81, so I was like six years old when those films came out in the cinema. I couldn’t see them in the cinema. It’s one thing watching them at home, but to watch them on the big screen – that’s really how it started,” he said.
“I just thought, it’d be nice to do something different. I found a rooftop in London and I liked this idea of being surrounded by this urban jungle. You could still see people in their offices or cleaners doing their work, everyone going about life and you’re right in the middle and that was really enchanting to me. Magical,” Cottle added.
Rooftop Cinema Club can be found in London and in several U.S. cities, like Los Angeles, Houston, New York City and San Diego. Plans to expand to other cities are on the horizon.
“Places where it’s sunny and people can watch great films late into the night,” Cottle said.
But, of course, safety is the first priority. Cottle said there are health protocols in place to make sure everyone feels safe and is able to enjoy themselves.
“We want people to feel like they’re having a whole night out,” he said. “They come, they get to play games, they get to relax.”
Programming for this season includes films like “Grease,” “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Mean Girls,” “La La Land” and more. Cottle said it’s important for him that the movies evolve and that they listen to what their audience wants.
For example, “Ratatouille” will be screened on April 11, which is National Pet Day (and furry friends are invited). There is also a screening of “Selena” happening on April 16, which would have been the late singer’s 50th birthday.
“We celebrate LGBTQ+, Black cinema, women in film ... It’s really important our programming does the talking for us,” Cottle added, encouraging people to send movie suggestions via social media. “We’re about our community. We’re about bringing the social, the celebration and the community back into cinema and that’s really important to us.”
Tickets for Rooftop Cinema Club range from $17.50 to $25, with discounts available for students and military. Family-friendly screenings are priced at $13.50 for kids and teens. Guests can choose from lounge seats or loveseats. Each guest receives a pair of headphones to wear during the screening.
“Cinema is about dreaming,” Cottle said. “It’s about the sights, the smells, the sounds. And even though we have to socially distance, at the end of the day, there’s something magical about being in a space with other people enjoying something at the same time.”
For more information or to buy tickets, visit rooftopcinemaclub.com.
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