Sundown Cinema a big draw in Helena

About 300 people, many on blankets and lawn chairs, watched as Dorothy and Toto finally found their way back to Kansas earlier this month at an installment of Sundown Cinema in Helena.

The 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz, wasn’t the first big draw.

So far, Harry Potter, The Princess Bride, Snowdogs, The Wizard of Oz, Spy Kids and Jimmy Neutron have graced the giant 13-by-17-foot screen bought earlier this year by the Helena Business and Professional Association.

The movies are shown every Thursday night at the Old Town Amphitheater in Helena starting at 8 p.m.

Still to come are Willy Wonka on Thursday, Godzilla on Aug. 29, Patch Adams on Sept. 5, and Grease on Sept. 12.

Once just an afterthought, the movie venture by the HBPA has become a hit among locals.

Kim Kato, one of the organizers, said she thinks Sundown Cinemas is even outdrawing Homewood’s Friday Night Movies in the Park.

&uot;We have had almost 500 people,&uot; she said noting a previous week’s attendance.

&uot;People are coming from Alabaster, Pelham, Helena. We had one family drive from Tuscaloosa.&uot;

Shannon Scott, HBPA president, said they are thrilled with the response. He said the sponsors have been a big help.

They include more than 40 members of the HBPA, with major sponsorships from Coca Cola, Colonial Properties, and America’s First Credit Union.

Kevin Kato, Kim Kato’s husband, noted the City of Helena has been a major contributor as well.

These movies are really bringing the community together. All the proceeds go back into the movies, the equipment and into events like the Buck Creek Festival. We are a non-profit organization,&uot; he said.

The HBPA is making plans for the fall with a host of events more aimed at adults, Kim Kato said. One such occasion, she said, includes Boos and Brews on Oct. 25. Two scary movies will be shown to celebrate Halloween. Adult beverages will also be available.

In addition, she said, the HBPA will rent out the equipment and amphitheater for events if businesses or organizations are interested.

For more information contact the HBPA at 621-6442