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Submitted May 29 2020

Since 2017, Movies Under the Stars has been a popular summer tradition in Stratford’s historic Market Square with free screenings of film classics and family favourites during the months of July and August. In previous years Movies Under the Stars has attracted between 350 and 1,000 people per night – visitors and residents alike as well as drawing the attention of theatre-goers exiting the Avon after the show.

Given the restrictions on public gatherings and physical distancing, and the potential repurposing of Market Square for Al Fresco dining, it is unlikely that our traditional screening model will be appropriate for our program of films in 2020. We are proposing several alternatives – each designed to provide benefit to downtown businesses including restaurants who may be able to provide a take-out menu, patio service or pop-up food service to movie patrons.

All of the options are paid ticketed events so that audience numbers can be managed and patrons can be identified in the event contact tracing is required.

Option #1 Movies Under the Stars Drive-In Option

The Ontario Government is currently reviewing if drive-in movies will be allowed in Phase II reopening plans. If approved here is our proposal:

Location: Grand Trunk Community Hub Parking Lot
Capacity: 150 + cars (Total capacity is 300 cars so this is with appropriate spacing between vehicles)
Audio: Sound delivered to ticket holders by short-range FM signal
When: Up to four times per week from Wed. – Sat. with double bill possible Friday/Saturday nights in August.
Pros: Close to downtown restaurants, ample parking, gated access,
Cons: City permission required, takes away parking, backdrop of railway shops not picturesque, portable washrooms required, site
Costs: Use of the site, portable washrooms, insurance, site labour (parking marshals and ticket takers) screening equipment and
screening labour
Benefits: A small number of cars each night spread out over multiple nights during the summer. The nearest drive in is in Grand Bend, so
this would be marketed to those able to drive in from a 30 – 45 minute radius of Stratford

Revenue: Drive-In – Carload – $30.00 (two adults + two children); General Admission – $12.00, Kids – 6 – 12 – $5.00)

Request to the city: Permission to use the site at no cost.

Alternate Location: Rotary Complex Parking Lot could be considered but not in a high visibility area and away from businesses and restaurants that could benefit.

Option #2 Movies Under the Stars Physical Distancing Option

Potential Locations: Grand Trunk Community Hub, Rotary Complex, Upper Queen’s Park, Festival Flats, Memorial Drive Bandshell, Market Square, Tom Patterson Island
Capacity: Dependent on public health guidelines
Audio: Loudspeakers
When: Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights in July and August
Costs: Use of the site, portable washrooms, insurance, site labour, screening equipment and screening labour

Ideal Location: Tom Patterson Island because of controlled access to ticket purchases or Grand Trunk Community Hub.

Revenue: Adults – $12,00, Kids 6 – 12 – $5.00, 5 and Under Free

Program of films would consist of family favourites and movie classics

Summary: Both rank well from an affordability and accessibility perspective. While there is little benefit to the overnight accommodation sector, restaurants and downtown businesses could benefit from the extra traffic. From the city’s perspective, the screenings, since they rely on ticketed revenue, the event is efficient and only requires permission, waiving of fees, road closure barricades. Movies Under the Stars also continue to offer a short term and long term opportunity to add value to the Stratford experience for residents and visitors alike.

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