MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. Popcorn popped in a sales tent in back of Myrtle Beachs Valor Memorial Garden as a 22-by-25-foot inflatable screen in front was warmed up to show Mary Poppins.
Steve and Laurie Inscore of Little River, S.C., had a whole picnic blanket spread in a corner of the foreground as dusk was settling in on a calm, clear June evening. For the 1964 Disney movie, the park was packed with patrons.
The Market Commons Movies Under the Stars program, every Wednesday, is one of three Grand Strand-area summer outdoor movies series, all in their second year. Conway Parks, Recreation & Tourism plays Movies in the Park on the second and fourth Fridays of the month along the Waccamaw River, and North Myrtle Beach and Horry County Parks and Recreation have Movies at McLean on the second Friday monthly in McLean Park.
Hatton Gravely, marketing manager at The Market Common, said officials tried the weekly movies for a month last summer. With turnout much more successful than we anticipated, the series expanded to three months for 2012.
Gravely said the crowds cover a mix of couples on date nights and groups of family and friends, with a balance of local residents and vacationers. The restaurants nearby play a part in the evening for many people who come out, go to dinner, then do a little shopping, and take in the movie at the end of the night.
Outdoor moviegoers have gotten into some themes, as officials saw with Ghostbusters, shown last summer.
We had some people in costumes show up, Gravely said.
Keeping families in mind also fits in the script for the series in the two other Grand Strand towns that take the silver screen under starlight.
Callie Jean Wise, program director for the city of North Myrtle Beach, said all its movies also carry G or PG ratings and roll 15 minutes after sunset. Its next dates reflect some really recent box office hits: The Muppets on Aug. 10, and Dr. Seuss The Lorax on Sept. 14.
Foster Hughes, director of parks and recreation for Conway, said with the technology of a nice projection and sound system on a 15-by-25-foot screen, city officials have a lot of fun organizing the movies.