OCEAN CITY –Imagine sitting on the beach after a warm, summer sunset, snuggled up with your friends and family on a beach blanket enjoying the latest hit movie on a 54 foot movie screen. Although the idea of movies on the beach is far from being approved in Ocean City, the idea is floating on the horizon after the Mayor and Council agreed this week to bring the Movies on the Beach presentation to a work session for review.
Rob Herting of Sunset Cinemas, Inc., came before the Mayor and Council at Monday’s meeting in an attempt to sell the Sunset Cinema, Movies on the Beach idea for the 2008 summer season.
“We believe Movies on the Beach would be a great addition to the Ocean City community and something that appeals to all ages,” Herting said in a letter to the city.
Herting explained to the Mayor and Council that Movies on the Beach provides a showing of first-run movies on the beach, on a nightly basis throughout the summer. The movies are projected on a 52-foot, inflatable, drive-in size movie screen with Dolby Digital surround sound. The idea essentially is to bring back the charm of the drive-in movie theatre but in the form of a “walk-in”, beach theater.
Herting informed the council that Movies on the Beach is in its third season in Wildwood, N.J., and has been met with a great deal of success. The first season at Wildwood reportedly brought in an attendance of 20,000 people in a 10-week period. The positive response in New Jersey resulted in a three-year deal for Sunset Cinemas.
Movies on the Beach improves upon the classic drive-in theaters by featuring first-run movies. In Wildwood, movies such as Hairspray, The Bourne Ultimatum and The Simpson Movie were projected onto the big screens on the beach this summer. Ticket prices are comparable to those of competing theaters, with adult tickets selling for $8.
Sunset Cinemas also features Movies on the Beach in downtown Miami, but has not seen the same success as in Wildwood.
“I think we’re about two to three years too early,” Herting told the council of the downtown Miami location, attributing the slow start to an excess of construction in the area. Sunset Cinemas plans to relocate to Miami Beach next year.
As for Ocean City, Herting feels Movies on the Beach could be a huge success. Although there are a lot of technical issues and logistics that would need to be ironed out, Herting is confident it would have success similar to what Wildwood has seen.
“We think this idea really works and we think it’s a great addition to the community,” Herting told the council.
Herting’s enthusiasm for the project was matched by the City Council, with Herting receiving positive feedback from council members.
“I think it sounds intriguing,” Councilwoman Nancy Howard said. “We should pursue this but we need to do this at a work session.”
Councilwoman Mary Knight agreed it was a promising idea.
“I think that it’s a really good idea and I hope we can work out the logistics,” she said.
Herting agreed that a work session would be best, explaining that there are a lot of issues that would need to be worked out and discussed including location.
“We understand it’s not an easy task, that’s why we’re starting early for next summer,” he said.
Both Howard and Councilman Jay Hancock agreed that the addition of a new cinema could provide some incentive for the local theaters to make improvements on their own facilities.
Hancock also agreed with the merit of the idea.
“I think this might be one step towards improving the local product,” he said, alluding to the recent requests by the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant-Association to find ways to bring more people to the town.