News Column

Free summer kids movies draw big crowds

June 11, 2013

YellowBrix

June 11--LAS CRUCES -- Hundreds of little heads barely peeked over the top of seats at Video 4 Tuesday morning as kids and adults eagerly awaited the beginning of "Madagascar 3."

Employees in the lobby pop, pop, popped popcorn, and little arms carried away stacks of kids' trays of munchies, drinks and candy.

The 9 a.m. showing of "Madagascar 3" sold out Tuesday, and the 11:20 a.m. session looked well on its way to following suit.

Allen Theatres is again offering kids and adults a cool, fun refuge from the heat with free movies this summer, and the 30-year event is as popular as ever.

"It's our opportunity to give back," said Russell Allen, who owns Allen Theatres along with his family. "A long time ago, the movie theater was about the only place that had air conditioning. Kids, on hot summer days, had places to go once a week."

The free showings also offer a chance for those who can't afford the ticket price to see movies on the big screen, he said.

"The fun and the joy and the crying and the screaming -- all the different emotions you can have from a movie -- is something we want to make available to people who can't do that, to see whatever fantasy is on that week," he said.

Single dad Robert Rodgers brought his daughter, 7-year-old Emma, to the free program for the first time Tuesday.

"It's something great to do with my daughter," he said while waiting in a line that stretched around the corner of the building. "Kids get bored in the summer, and we're

trying to find things to do."

The pair lined up more than an hour before the show. "We got here just in time," Rodgers said.

Dozens of day camp kids arrived soon after them.

"It's just go get them out and active," said Amanda Apodaca, a summer recreation staffer with the city of Las Cruces. "It's better than being stuck in our center."

Each film is played three times a day on two screens, putting potential capacity at 1,800 people, Allen said. Attendance depends on a film's popularity, he said.

The company aims to primarily show its most popular PG movies from the last year, though some companies, like Disney, don't allow their movies to be shown for free.

Begun in Las Cruces at the Rio Grande Theatre in 1983, Allen Theatres started the tradition in Farmington even before moving to the Mesilla Valley.

In 1998, the summer showings moved to Video 4 when the family closed the Rio Grande and opened its theater on Telshor.

Though Video 4 is up for sale -- the building doesn't have the capacity to show digital movies and obtaining new movies on reels of film is increasingly difficult -- the summertime movie tradition will continue at another Allen theater, Allen said.

"This is something we will definitely continue to do wherever we're at," he said.

Lindsey Anderson can be reached at 575-541-5462. Follow her on Twitter @l_m_anderson

Free movies schedule

Movies are shown every Tuesday at 9 a.m., 11:20 a.m. and 1:40 p.m. at Video 4 on 1005 S. El Paseo Road. All movies are rated PG.

June 18: "Ice Age: Continental Drift"

June 25: "ParaNorman"

July 2: "Despicable Me"

July 9: "Hotel Transylvania"

July 16: "Rise of the Guardians"

July 23: "Arthur Christmas"

July 30: "Smurfs"

Aug. 6: "Happy Feet Two"

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(c)2013 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)

Visit the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.) at www.lcsun-news.com

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