'Movies in the Park' vs. 'River Flicks' | Rock Candy

Friday, June 11, 2010

'Movies in the Park' vs. 'River Flicks'

Posted By on Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 10:32 AM

In her "Paper Trails" column in today's Demazette, Linda Caillouet calls me out for my post earlier in the week about the weird sibling rivalry between Little Rock and North Little Rock that's led to NLR starting a its own free movie series almost directly across the river from Little Rock's "Movies in the Park."

In typical "Paper Trails" fashion it's off base in all kinds of ways.

Caillouet quotes this from my item:

As much as everyone loves free movie series, this is some weird sister city rivalry at work. "Movies in the Park" is an institution. If North Little Rock wants to create its own family friendly event, it (or more precisely the promoters who use its park space for free) should come up with some fresh idea.

Then she tries on mock outrage:

Really?!? What about that copycat retro drive-in movie series at Arkansas Flag and Banner in downtown Little Rock... The nerve! How dare they?!?

This, of course, is a wholly different animal. It's, as she mentions, a drive-in. It costs ($5 per person, or $20 per car). And it's aimed at grown folks. The line-up includes "Night of the Living Dead" and "Sex Madness." So, too, is Dave Elswick's classic movie series at Market Street, which is free to kids and only $5 for adults.

"River Flicks" and "Movies in the Park," on the other hand, are the exact same idea. They're each a free, family-oriented outdoor movie series held on the river. If not for last night's rain out of "River Flicks," they were scheduled to screen the same movie, "The Blind Side," within six days of each other. And, again, these events are happening almost directly across the river, albeit on different nights.

As Caillouet neatly omits there's politics in the mix, too. As I reported earlier in the week, Butch Stone, whose son Dennis produces "River Flicks," has a major beef with the Riverfest Amphitheatre, home to "Movies in the Park." He alleges that the LRCVB, which controls the amphitheater, reneged on conditions that would allow him to return to booking shows there and that Dennis was pushed out of "Movies in the Park."

That and NLR's desire to take in whatever sales tax revenue comes from bringing hundreds of folks to its city is what's behind the reemergence of "River Flicks," which started on the North Shore in the mid-'90s; what's behind "River Flicks" billing itself as "Central Arkansas Premier Free Movie Event."

Are more free big budget popcorn movies better for the local moviegoer, as "Movies in the Park" founder Blake Rutherford concedes to Caillouet in her item? Maybe so.

But it's also yet another sign of the dysfunctional relationship the sister cities share.

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