Status of Movies in the Park: Free August Movies Gone for Now

Movies in the Park attendees were treated to a beautiful sunset before the movie started.

Movies in August at the Field of Dreams at the Palisades Recreation Center was a long-standing Saturday tradition, when it was halted during Covid. Movies in the Park was a nonprofit founded in 2004 by David Williams and John Wirth and joined by Andy Frew and Brad Lusk.

At the beginning of May, this editor received an email from one of the founders of the Movies in the Park

I am writing to you in hopes that you can help.

I no longer can run movies in the park. My current private chef’s job for NBA player Russell Westbrook and family has me working full time PLUS and travel on occasion. There just simply isn’t enough time to do what needs to be done well in advance of August.

Andy and I have agreed that we would love another Palisades organization to take it over. Andy will still help on the nights of the movies and I would be around best I can to help with the first season for all the tips they would need.

The equipment would be free to the organization, just would have to store it themselves (no longer in my garage)

If you know of an organization that is interested, please let me know and we can make a clean transfer.

CTN asked Williams a few follow up questions about the cost and insurance and he responded:

 There are many different costs. What we did as MITP

  1. Insurance about $1100 for the month of August, which covered equipment and injury. Organizations may be able to simply add the movies for a month to the regular insurance.
  2. Movie rental was $500-$700 each movie. It runs through ASCAP which pays the proper people for public use. We use a company called SWANK. You cannot just go buy a copy or use a copy from home. 
  3. Park permit was about $1100-$1400.
  4. Security was $500-$600 total (they gave us a deal).

 We spent about $8000 for the entire event, which also included advertising, banners for the park fences, storage rental to keep the equipment at the park etc. 

 If an organization is serious about it, I can go over all of it with them in one meeting. We raised about 10-12K in community sponsorships. Full sponsorships for businesses, ($575 each), “movie only” sponsorships ($400 each. helped cover most of the movie rental costs) and community sponsorships (random amounts from residents, businesses and organization).

We have all of the equipment (just purchased some new speakers) so there aren’t any costs there. 

Mike Skinner paid for all of the FREE hotdogs every year and we ranged from 500-1100 people at each movie. The key to the event is to keep it FREE for the movie goer. Once you ask them to pay, you will kill the event in my opinion.

Palisades Rec Park Staff grilled hot dogs supplied by Mike Skinner and that were given away free to movie goers during Movies in the Parks.

Circling the News reached out to the American Legion after receiving Wiliams’ letter, thinking between the Legion, the Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion, it might be a good community service kind of project that would take a minimum of manpower. CTN was told it was being discussed, but one of the issues would be finding volunteers.

At the Park Advisory Board Meeting on July 20, the Park Director Jasmine Dowlatshahi said that she had met with Williams and was taking the equipment from him. She was planning on running a movie in October when the Park held its annual Spooktacular. She was asked if she was going to have regular schedule for Movies in the Park, and she said she was only planning on having a movie a couple of times a year because it was a lot of work.


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