What happens when a group of film buffs playing team trivia at Cru Wine Bar in Beaufort start reminiscing about how much fun it is to watch a great flick on the big screen in a movie theater and wonder why there isn’t one in Carteret County east of Atlantic Beach?
They decide to open their own, of course.
That’s pretty much the way it went down, according to Beaufort Picture Show board member Billy Kane.
“A group of relatively new-to-town folks who discovered they were practically neighbors were playing team trivia at a downtown bar one night, and we were cheerfully congratulating ourselves for correctly answering a particularly easy question about movies. As it turned out, we all like movies and were missing the fun of seeing a movie in a community of neighbors and friends,” Mr. Kane said. “It’s a different experience watching a movie in an intimate and respectful theater than watching that same movie on your couch at home. So, we asked ourselves if there was a decent, indie/arty movie house in Beaufort or even Morehead City.
“The correct answer was no. And then we started to think about ways to start our own movie theater right here in Beaufort,” he continued.
That relatively casual conversation got the “show on the road, so to speak, and the Beaufort Picture Show was launched earlier this summer.
Located in a performance space across the parking lot from the Mill Whistle Brewery taproom at 1354 Lennoxville Road, the cozy venue boasts a large, 120-inch screen, surround-sound speaker system and padded folding-chair seating for about 40 moviegoers.
Officials accept donations for the free popcorn, and other concessions, including beer, wine, soft drinks and light snacks are available next door at the taproom.
Thus far, audience reaction has been “boffo.”
“The local reaction has been terrific. Almost every screening during the summer was effectively sold out,” Mr. Kane said. “Keep in mind there are only 40 seats, but the competition for them has been — as they say — fierce. And as far as we can tell, most folks who came to the movies this summer were locals, but some visitors found us too, and we are so glad they did. It seems that everyone was happy once they found us and figured out what we were trying to do.”
Movies on tap
Beaufort Picture Show’s summer season included screening of popular indie films such as “On the Basis of Sex,” “Lady Bird” and “Atonement.”
The summer season really took off Aug. 10 with a free screening of “Woodstock,” Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 Oscar-winning documentary of the legendary August 1969 music and arts festival in upstate New York.
Admission for each film in the fall movie series is $10 for the general public, $9 for senior citizens, students and the military and $7 for BPS members. The box office opens about one hour before show time.
Here’s the fall lineup:
• Friday — “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” 8 p.m.
• Friday, Sept. 27 — “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” 5 and 8 p.m.
• Friday, Oct. 11 — “The Post,” 5 and 8 p.m.
• Friday, Oct. 25 — “The Favourite,” 5 and 8 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 8 —
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri,” 5 and 8 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 11 — “The Florida Project,” 5 and 8 p.m.
• Friday, Dec. 13 – “The Sound of Music” (sing-along), 5 p.m.
If that sounds like an eclectic selection of titles, it is. Films screened at BPS are hand-picked by a selection committee comprised of volunteer board members who check the movies’ eligibility and cost.
“We have to contend with very serious — and sometimes expensive — licensing restrictions that may affect our ability to show certain movies on certain dates,” Mr. Kane said. “And so it’s the board, ultimately, who decides which movies are shown. In any case, the main thing is that we’re interested in showcasing movies we hope the greater Beaufort metropolitan area will find compelling and delightful, and we try to mix it up.
“Dramas, maybe a thoughtful comedy here and there, a musical once in a while, and so on. Either way, there are so many films to choose from, we strive to show the best movies we can find,” Mr. Kane continued.
Current BPS board members include Barbara Chappetta, Vic Fasolino, Virginia Ferri, Mr. Kane, David Sharpe, Ron Smith, Susan Smith and Lynn Sutton.
Volunteers are welcome, and while there is no pay involved, help is needed to set the space up and take it down for each movie.
“It’s a lot of work to keep the behind-the-scenes aspects running smoothly,” Mr. Kane said.
He and the BPS search committee scouted several locations for a suitable venue to show movies in downtown Beaufort. All proved to be cost prohibitive.
“We checked our wallets and could not find an extra couple million bucks anywhere. Nevertheless, we persisted and kept looking around,” he said. “Then we learned that Mill Whistle Brewery had just opened a performance space across the parking lot from their taproom.
“After a quick inspection of the recently renovated industrial space and a few friendly conversations with Mill Whistle owners Tom and Barb Backman, we struck the deal. We’ve formed a really great relationship with our ‘benevolent landlords,’ and we’re likely to stay at Mill Space for at least a couple more years,” Mr. Kane continued.
Looking for angels
Mr. Kane’s wish is for the local business community to get behind the drive to keep movies rolling in Beaufort.
“The hope is that someday we’ll find an ‘angel investor’ who’ll help us build a magnificent theater downtown. We are an official 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so any donations to the Beaufort Picture Show are tax deductible,” he said. “We are also starting to sniff around for some possible grants. Meanwhile, we’re delighted and proud to offer our services at the Mill Space, conveniently situated in what we’re trying to label as ‘midtown’ – very accessible, within walking or biking distance for lots of folks, with plenty of free parking.
“In any case, the Beaufort Picture Show has eagerly adopted Mill Whistle’s ‘all are welcome’ philosophy, and we’re hoping to help build midtown Beaufort into a destination via ‘must-see’ movie events,” he continued.
For more information about BPS events and volunteer opportunities, visit beaufortpictureshow.com or call 252-528-7395.