City revives drive-in movie summer series

Desert Sun Stadium  will be the venue for a summer outdoor movie series the city of Yuma wants to host for the public.

The city of Yuma will revive a popular tradition among older film fans this weekend when Desert Sun Stadium doubles as a drive-in theater for a two-night showing of “Jumanji: The Next Level.”

The 2019 film starring Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black will be shown on a 22-foot-by-60-foot outdoor screen Friday and Saturday nights at the stadium at 1280 W. Desert Sun Drive.

And depending on the reception to the debut, the city could offer its Drive-In Movie Night every weekend in the summer as a diversion for families that have grown restless from being made shut-ins by COVID-19.

City officials haven’t finalized the lineup of movies that would be shown. But Carrie Ring, marketing specialist for the city, says the plan is to screen a mix of modern, older and classic films on a large screen to viewers who would receive sound by tuning into a FM radio station in their vehicles.

Drive-In Movie Night, she said, comes in response to appeals from area residents that included an online petition drive that has collected more than 8,000 signatures. The city parks and recreation department teamed with the Yuma Art Center, Yuma Civic Center and Yuma Festivals to work out the details of the event.

“Our team prides itself on being able to come together to utilize industry experts within our team to develop successful events that benefit our community and the quality of life events and programming they deserve,” Jay Simonton, deputy city administrator and interim parks and recreation director, said in a news release.

Families who want to catch “Jumanji: The Next Level” this weekend won’t be buying their tickets with cash at a box office on site. To assure “touchless transactions” as a means to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the city is requiring them to purchase tickets online at www.yumashowtickets.com.

Tickets are scheduled to go on sale beginning at 8 a.m. today.

Ticket prices are $5 per car, irrespective of how many people are in each vehicle, and admission will be limited to 150 vehicles per showing, in part to promote social distancing among movie-goers.

“We have taken into consideration recommendations from the Yuma County Health Department, (World Health Organization) and the (Centers for Disease Control) in regards to social distancing,” Ring said. “Tickets are online and presale only to avoid hand-to-hand exchanges.”

Vendors will be at the stadium selling popcorn, she said, but only purchases with credit or debit cards will be allowed.

Gates will open at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Desert Sun Stadium and movie-goer are asked to arrive by 7:40 p.m. On arrival, they will be provided the FM station to receive audio. People who don’t want to run down their car batteries can bring portable FM radios as long as the sound doesn’t leave their vehicles.

In “Jumanji: The Next Level,” rated PG-13, the protagonists brave danger and harsh conditions in arid deserts and frigid mountains.

The film happened to be suggested by her son to debut the series, Ring said, but, she added with a laugh, it could serve as an apt metaphor for all that area residents have endured amid the coronavirus pandemic.

If the movie nights prove popular, she said, the city would like to screen outdoor films every weekend this summer, excepting the Fourth of July weekend.

“We want people to remember how much fun it was to go to the drive-in theater,” she said, “and we want their kids to have a new experience.”

The city is waiting to schedule other movies, she said, because it wants to see what reception the Drive-In Movie Night gets before purchasing royalties to other films. Proceeds from the $5 per vehicle admission would go to buy the royalties.

Ring said the city welcomes suggestions from the public about future films to show in the series. “We try to do what we can to give the community what it wants.”

For this weekend’s showings, the city is providing hand-washing stations, and it urges film-goers to wear masks and practice social distancing when leaving their vehicles to go to the restroom or buy concessions from vendors.

The following rules will be in effect for the movies:

• People must stay in their vehicles while watching the movie.

• No lawn chairs or pop-ups will be allowed.

• No alcohol will be allowed

• People may bring their own food, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.

• Loud noises that may interfere with other people’s ability to hear will not be allowed.

• The city and stadium assume no responsibility for injuries, property damage or other situations beyond its control.

• The city retains the right to refuse service.

• Large sport utility vehicles and trucks will be directed to park in back to prevent blocking the view of others.

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