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  • 06/06/2024 10:42 PM | Donna Saunders


    LIBERTY CENTER, Ohio — The Field of Dreams Drive-In Theater near Liberty Center is having a special showing of the comedy classic Munster, Go Home on the night of June 12 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the zany 1960s television series The Munsters.

    The television show, a comedy about a family of benign monsters living in suburban America, aired on CBS for only two seasons but had 70 episodes produced. It has lived on for subsequent generations through syndicated reruns and DVD sales.

    Butch Patrick, a child star who played youngster Eddie Munster, will appear in person at the drive-in that night.

    He told The Blade in an interview that drive-ins have always been near and dear to his heart. He said he became a fan of them during their heyday when he traveled across rural America with his grandmother, an antique collector.

    “I was always a fan of the drive-in movie community,” Mr. Patrick said.

    Through a friend, he was introduced to Rod Saunders, Field of Dreams co-owner, and the two came up with an idea for the special promotion.

    “The idea is literally to help the owners of these drive-in theaters establish something of an interesting draw,” Mr. Patrick said, explaining that he’s hoping to work with other drive-in movie theater owners, too.

    Drive-ins were “a rite of passage” during Mr. Patrick’s youth, and he gets nostalgic about them. Those that remain “bring around some good feelings of yesteryear with a family-friendly situation,” he said.

    Mr. Patrick is so fond of drive-ins that he’s toying with the idea of renting a motor home next year and spending two years on the road visiting as many left as he can.

    “You know how some people go on the road and try to see every baseball stadium?” he asked. “Well, I would like to go on the road and do as many drive-in theaters as possible over two years.”

    He said he would like to park the motor home and stay overnight at many of those drive-ins.

    Now 70, Mr. Patrick was only 10 years old when he portrayed Eddie Munster.

    But he has fond memories.

    “It was a wonderful experience,” Mr. Patrick said. “There was a super amount of talent on the show.”

    Little-known fact: The Munsters had the same writers, Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher, as a popular sitcom that preceded it, Leave It to Beaver.

    That said, The Munsters didn’t hold up to competition from the action-comedy Batman after it premiered on the ABC network in 1966. The Batman television show continued until 1968.

    The Munster, Go Home movie was made in 1966. It chronicles the fictional family’s misadventures in England.

    Mr. Patrick will appear in person at Field of Dreams as a special guest for a two-hour meet-and-greet starting at 7:30 p.m. on the night of the event. There also will be two vehicles from The Munsters television series on site, and Munsters merchandise for sale.

    Mr. Patrick and Patricia Priest, the second woman to portray his sister, Marilyn Munster, are the only two cast members still living.

    Beverley Owen, who played Marilyn for the first 13 episodes, died in 2019. Fred Gwynne, who played their father, Herman Munster, died in 1993; Yvonne De Carlo, who played Herman’s wife, Lily Munster, died in 2007, and Al Lewis, who played Grandpa Munster, died in 2006.

    "We are excited to celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Munsters with our community and fans from afar," Rod Saunders, Field of Dreams Drive-In Theater’s co-owner, said. "Having Butch Patrick join us for this special screening of Munster, Go Home makes the event even more memorable. It's a fantastic opportunity for fans to relive the magic of the show and meet one of its beloved stars."

    Mr. Patrick added in the drive-in’s announcement Monday that he’s “thrilled to be part of this 60th-anniversary celebration.”

    The Munsters has had a lasting impact on so many people, and it's wonderful to see its legacy continue,” Mr. Patrick said.

    Tickets are $10 a carload. Gates open at 7:30 p.m., with the movie playing at dusk. 

    The Field of Dreams drive-in is at V602 County Road 6.

  • 04/16/2024 1:13 PM | John Vincent Jr.


    Hollywood decamped for Las Vegas this week for CinemaCon, looking to reassure movie theater owners and executives that they had what it takes to keep audiences flocking to cinemas through 2024 and beyond. And despite odes to the magic of the big screen experience, there was a whiff of desperation in the artificially-oxygenated, cigarette-perfumed air of Caesars Palace, where the annual exhibition trade show takes place.

    That’s because the box office hasn’t recaptured its pre-pandemic stride — studios estimate that roughly 15% to 20% of frequent moviegoers have yet to resume their old entertainment habits now that COVID has dissipated. Plus, the labor strikes that consumed the media industry for much of the previous year as actors and writers hit the picket lines resulted in production delays that left theaters with fewer movies to hawk on their marquees.

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    But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Despite the challenges, studios are ready to offer up new installments in such long-running franchises as “Alien,” “Despicable Me” and “Mad Max,” along new offerings from distinctive filmmakers like Tim Burton, Ridley Scott, Barry Jenkins and Todd Phillips that could be crowdpleasers. After four days filled with hours-long pitches to tease blockbuster hopefuls and big gambles, Variety has assessed the studio presentations that may have missed the mark or could just salvage the struggling box office.


    Notable films: “Deadpool and Wolverine,” “Moana 2,” “Mufasa: The Lion King,” “Inside Out 2” “Alien Romulus”

    What worked: For the first time in a long time, Disney actually put some effort into its CinemaCon presentation — and it showed. To be fair, in the past, the studio didn’t exactly need to sell its behemoths like “Avengers” or “Avatar” to theater owners, who would salivate at the chance to show anything from the Mouse House on its screens. Well, after a rocky 2023 at the box office with Tiffany franchises like “Indiana Jones” and The Marvels” losing their luster, Disney looks to restore its former glory over the next 12 months. “Inside Out 2” delighted the crowd and should become a needed win for Pixar (although we promise we could have gotten the gist of the sequel’s charm in less than 35 minutes). And, of course, Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman’s not-so-family-friendly “Deadpool and Wolverine” should quell fears about superhero fatigue, with many predicting it could become the biggest release of the year.

    What didn’t: The studio’s 2019 photorealistic remake of “The Lion King” was a massive commercial winner, so it seems silly to suggest that a film set in The Pride Lands could be anything less than a slam dunk for Disney. But prequels are a tougher sell, and the upcoming “Mufasa” doesn’t come with the catchy tunes like “Hakuna Matata” that turned the original story into a cinematic classic. Although the next “Lion King” installment looks great, director Barry Jenkins has huge pawprints to fill in order to avoid seeming it like a cash-grab. And will “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” get audiences to care about prickly primates without the help of Andy Serkis, whose performance capture work as Caesar provided the heart and soul of the last trilogy?

    Verdict: A-


    Notable films: “Michael,” “Ballerina,” “The Crow,” “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”

    What worked: “Ballerina,” the “John Wick” spinoff that the studio delayed by a year, will likely be worth the wait. It’s filled with the kinetic action that made those hitman adventures such delicious fun over their four chapters and Ana de Armas positively smolders as she makes short work of assorted baddies. In a much different vein, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” an adaptation of the beloved book about a family from the wrong side of the tracks that takes leading roles in their church’s Nativity play has all the makings of a family-friendly, faith-based hit. And “Michael,” the company’s Michael Jackson biopic was greeted with the kind of deafening applause that greeted the Gloved One’s concerts. If it can avoid becoming mired in controversy (a big if given the child sexual abuse allegations that marred Jackson’s legacy), “Michael” should be a “Bohemian Rhapsody”-style sensation. Plus, theater owners, who are starved for movies to show on their screens after COVID and the strikes led to a stream of production headaches and pushed release dates, were impressed that Lionsgate plans to offer up a dozen or so movies over the coming months.

    What didn’t: …but all that volume doesn’t necessarily carry the promise of originality. Many of the movies that Lionsgate will debut — “Flight Risk,” featuring a balding Mark Wahlberg as a psycho mob enforcer, or “The Killer’s Game” with Dave Bautista as an assassin — seemed like violent “John Wick” retreads. Even “The Crow,” the long-gestating reboot of the dark comic book about an unlikely avenging angel, had a gritty, blood-splattered palette that seemed to have been lifted from those movies. It added up to an unrelenting barrage of violence and gunplay that left one attendee wondering if Lionsgate’s slate had been sponsored by the NRA. Oh, and while “Borderlands,” Lionsgate’s gonzo adaptation of the popular video game, showcased a dramatically different aesthetic, its quippy action sequences were a little like a “Guardians of the Galaxy” knock-off.

    Verdict: B


    Notable films: “Gladiator II,” “IF,” “A Quiet Place: Day One,” “Transformers One”

    What worked: Ridley Scott may have pulled off the impossible, making a worthy follow-up to his Oscar-winning “Gladiator” (a film that had a body count so high, it almost defied the idea of a sequel). The footage from the action epic was, to put it simply, stunning. It overflowed with political intrigue, naval bombardments and, of course, the kind of savage arena clashes that made the first movie a box office victor. Plus, Paul Mescal, playing a secretive warrior, seems poised to reach an even higher level of stardom — his trajectory, from indie artist to A-list leading man, mirrors that of Russell Crowe, who anchored 2000’s “Gladiator.” Also, “Transformer One,” the studio’s science-fiction animated film benefitted from immersive 3D and a vocal cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Brian Tyree Henry and Scarlett Johansson. It looks to be a decent-sized family hit for the company, in the vein of Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” And prequel “A Quiet Place: Day One” was genuinely terrifying and should scare up big grosses when it debuts in June.

    What didn’t: Let’s be honest, the future looks murky for Paramount. The studio is for sale (CEO Brian Robbins joked about starting a GoFundMe to buy the place), so a cloud hung over the presentation. Paramount compensated by announcing a long line of upcoming projects in various stages of production and development — from a Bee Gees’ biopic to a new Damien Chazelle movie to a remake of “The Running Man” with “Top Gun: Maverick” standout Glen Powell. Some seemed promising, but others may never see the light of day depending on what happens on the M&A front. Aside from all that corporate drama, John Krasinski’s “IF,” an imaginary friend comedy aimed at younger audiences, seems like a high-priced gamble on an original idea at a time when moviegoers prefer their IP to be overly familiar.

    Verdict: B-


    Notable films: “Wicked,” “Despicable Me 4,” “Twisters”

    What worked: Something magical is happening in Oz, and Universal is working in overdrive to sell the masses on the pink and green wizardry. A stunt for “Wicked” had all the cinema owners in the Colosseum waving glowing tulips as stars Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo took the stage and charmed the room. Illumination introduced “Despicable Me 4,” which will surely be another family cash cow and “Twisters,” an update of the 1996 classic that featured sequences of horrifying tornado destruction, looked legit.

    What didn’t: A thinner slate. Can the studio’s indie label, Focus Features, and partnership with Blumhouse fill the void? Some of the movies the labels are making such as Christopher Abbot’s “Wolfman” and Robert Eggers’ artsy vampire flick “Nosferatu” could find receptive audiences. Let’s hope the Dracula-esque yarn has a smaller budget than Eggers’ last film, lavish Viking misfire “The Northman.” Others, like the papal drama, “The Conclave,” will need great reviews to move from the arthouse into the mainstream. In fairness, Universal has already trotted out a few titles this year: Dev Patel’s “Monkey Man” and the long-awaited “Kung Fu Panda” sequel. There’s also the splashy Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt film “The Fall Guy” and vampire ballerina film “Abigail” which were not included in the presentation but will release imminently. The biggest problem for Universal is that aside from “Despicable Me 4,” the studio isn’t fielding new installments in some of its longest-running franchises like “Fast and Furious” and “Jurassic World” until 2025. In other words, it needs “Wicked” to hit all the right notes.

    Verdict: B+


    Notable films: “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” “Joker: Folie a Deux,” “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice”

    What worked: “Joker: Folie a Deux” was the undeniable star of Warner Bros. presentation, and there’s little doubt that Joaquin Phoenix (reprising his Oscar-winning role of Arthur Fleck) and Lady Gaga (joining the chaos as Harley Quinn) will follow it up with a press tour for the ages. But it’s not the only would-be blockbuster on the horizon. “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” will be a visual spectable in Imax, while “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” should deliver on the nostalgia. On the other end of the superhero spectrum, “Super/Man,” a tear-jerker about the life of Christopher Reeve, will be the kind of riveting crowd-pleaser that propelled other non-fiction films, such as the Mister Rogers-inspired “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” “RBG” and “Three Identical Strangers” to rarified box office heights (for a documentary).

    What didn’t: “Mickey 17,” a dysopian thriller that unites Bong Joon Ho and Robert Pattinson, should be the stuff that indie dreams are made of. But there’s a chance the $150 million-budgeted literary adaptation could be a tonal mess — especially of Pattinson’s character’s unplaceable accent is any indication. And though the studio didn’t showcase footage from James Gunn’s “Superman: Legacy,” which is filming in Atlanta, it’s unclear if the “Guardians of the Galaxy” filmmaker can bring some of that offbeat fervor to DC after last year’s epic string of comic book misfires. “The Flash” and “Aquaman 2,” we’re looking at you.

    Verdict: A

  • 01/23/2024 8:32 AM | Donna Saunders (Administrator)

    By Anthony D'Alessandro


    EXCLUSIVE: Sony, which kicked off CinemaCon last year, is skipping this year’s exhibitor-studio conference in Las Vegas that runs April 8-11 at Caesars Palace.

    This happens from time to time when a major studio will sit out, and it’s not a diss to theater owners. The last time Sony didn’t attend CinemaCon was in 2019. Quite often this is a cost-savings thing for studios when they skip CinemaCon. To get ready for the April confab, there’s a big rush to ready a year’s worth of trailers and clips, solidify VFX and sound effects, and plan stars’ travel within the next three months. Complicating all of that, however, is the impact of the dual strikes’ on Q3 and Q4 theatrical releases which caused a delay in production, and thus an ultimate post-production logjam. Sony, I understand, is focusing on getting back to max theatrical feature outpost now that the strikes are over.

    Footage from Sony’s Marvel title Kraven the Hunter (August 30) was shown at last year’s CinemaCon.

    The Culver City lot has plenty of titles opening after CinemaCon, i.e., Horrorscope (May 10), The Garfield Move (May 24), Bad Boys 4 (June 14), Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us (June 21), Apple Original Films’ untitled Greg Berlanti-directed space race movie with Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum (July 12), Harold and the Purple Crayon (August 2), The Forge (August 23), Apple’s Wolfs (September 20), Venom 3 (November 8), and Karate Kid (December 13).

    First title out of the gate for Sony this year is Marvel’s Madame Web on February 14, followed by Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire on March 22.

  • 07/31/2023 11:21 PM | Donna Saunders

    By: Nadeen Abusada

    Posted at 11:00 PM, Jul 31, 2023 and last updated 11:21 PM, Jul 31, 2023


    As movie theatres continue to close across the US, one drive-in movie theatre in North Ridgeville has been holding on, and Barbie has only brought in more business.

    Since the 1960's families have been packing in cars, grabbing the essential buttery popcorn and other snacks, all to watch movies on the big screen at the drive-in movie theatre.

    “It brings back a lot of memories from when I was little, and my parents would take me,” said one attendee.

    Tim Sherman and his brother provide that nostalgic experience at the Aut-O-Rama movie theatre every night during the summer.

    “In 1965, it was built by my grandfather. My father ran it pretty much from day one, and my brother and I run it today,” said Tim Sherman the president of Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-in Theatre.

    But sadly, over the years, the tradition the Shermans love to host has slowly lost its popularity due to movie streaming.

    “So now you are getting a lot of the new movies going to home really fast or same day release and that's hurting theatres,” said Tim.

    And because of the economy, their monthly bills have also skyrocketed.

    “Electricity bills have gone through the roof. My payroll has gone through the roof, of course,” said Tim.

    But what’s brought a glimpse of hope is crowds dressed in pink all to see the movie about a doll that goes by the name Barbie.

    “Barbie was kind of unexpected,” Tim continued. “We sold out the first two nights we had it.”

    Sherman says during the summer they try to get about 100 cars each show, while some nights they weren’t able to get that; Barbie brought about 400 cars every night since it premiered being the biggest movie of the summer for them.

    Though the future of the business is still undetermined. Tim doesn’t let that discourage him.

    “We hope to be here for a long time. We're not planning on going anywhere. So, we're going to fight it till the end if that's what it comes to,” said Tim.

    Because for him and his family, being able to provide experiences and memories that people won’t forget through a simple movie ticket, is priceless.

  • 07/23/2023 9:06 AM | Donna Saunders


    PUBLISHED 10:45 AM ET JUL. 08, 2023


    HAMILTON, Ohio — New movie releases are not just driving people back to indoor theaters but they're also helping give outdoor theaters a comeback.

    What You Need To Know

    • Local drive-in theater owners said movie-goers started coming back during the pandemic, and new movie releases are keeping the crowds coming 
    • Owners of the Holiday Drive-in Theater said they plan to continue to upgrade equipment to play high-quality shows but are planning to keep the long-time feel 

    • Statistics show there are 24 drive-in theaters left in Ohio 

    For the Blue family, the lawn chairs, blankets, candy and the big screen are traditions.

    “I went to the drive-in growing up,” said Robert Blue. 

    It’s a tradition he said they’re passing down to their kids. 

    “When I first started coming they were two, maybe,” said mother Kristen Blue.

    They’re not alone. Cars packed with families still line up to watch a movie at the Holiday Drive-in Theater in Hamilton.

    “I pass that tradition down to my friends. Now we go here just to like hang out and talk and watch the movie,” said Holiday Drive-in employee Meagan Sams. 

    Sams works concessions at the theater and wanted to make it her job after growing up going to the drive-in. 

    “Being able to see people walk in and have that kind of like, ‘oh my god, it still looks like this’…it’s kind of a rare find,” said Sams. 

    Numbers show there were about 4,000 drive-ins across the country in the late ‘50s. Now, there’s a about 300 left in the U.S. and 24 of those are in Ohio.

    Todd Chancey, co-owner of the Holiday Drive-in, said while the film industry took a hit and indoor movie theaters closed up shop, the pandemic might have been what helped the drive-in business. 

    “When COVID happened, all new movies stopped and their releases were delayed or their productions were delayed. However, we were fortunate to be given the clearance to open in May of 2020, and we were the only theater open. So we were playing older movies, the ‘Jurassic Park’ movies, ‘Beetlejuice’, some Disney movies, and we were selling out,” said Chancey. 

    He said they haven’t slowed down since, with newer movies hitting the big screen and families consistently stopping through. It’s now become an almost 90-year-old tradition. 

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