HBO Pulls Out of Screen on the Green, the Outdoor Cinema Series on the Mall

The outdoor cinema series on the Mall, Screen on the Green, had been a popular D.C. tradition for nine years.
The outdoor cinema series on the Mall, Screen on the Green, had been a popular D.C. tradition for nine years. (By Tyler Mallory)

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By Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No need to funnel your wine into a coffee thermos this summer. There is no more Screen on the Green.

HBO will not sponsor the five-week outdoor cinema series on the Mall this July and August because it could not find co-sponsors.

"HBO has been proud to host Screen on the Green for the past nine years," was the official statement from the company. "Unfortunately, we can't do everything we'd like to do and were unable to find a partner to continue this D.C. tradition."

A small virtual riot ensued after news broke yesterday on the blog We Love D.C.

"Noooooooooooo!" was the first comment posted to DCist's blurb yesterday morning. "HBO, why are you trying to kill our summer?"

Bloggers blogged: "We are in a period of mourning" was the report from http://DC365.blogspot.com.

Twitterers twittered: "Jeff and I had our second date at Screen on the Green," sighed one woman.

A Facebook group titled "Save Screen on the Green!" popped up to call for a substitute sponsor, and for sharing memories and photos.

Ah, memories. The persistent bugs, the hateful humidity, the evening thunderstorms rumbling in the distance, the veggie plates and the contraband alcohol -- Screen on the Green allowed us to experience all the hallmarks of a summer in D.C. at once, with a classic film unspooling on a giant screen on the grassy expanse between Fourth and Seventh streets NW. It was fine viewing on prime real estate.

"Screen on the Green is not really about the movie," says District resident Tony Altimore, 30, who tipped the news to local blogs after talking yesterday to the National Park Service. "The fun is the whole picnic on the National Mall. The sun goes down behind the Washington Monument and the Capitol building is lit up. It's the atmosphere. I don't know that I get that outside a shopping mall in Crystal City."

Outdoor cinema series have grown like weeds in the suburbs. Rosslyn is running movies from the '80s every Friday through September at Gateway Park near the Key Bridge. Crystal City is doing the same thing with superhero movies. Other outdoor festivals are hosted in Bethesda, Rockville and elsewhere in Arlington.

The closest geographical alternative to Screen on the Green will be NoMa Summer Screen, held in the grassy lot on L Street NE between Second and Third streets, and sponsored by the NoMa Business Improvement District. It will screen movies about music (like "Ray" and "Lady Sings the Blues") every Wednesday from June 10 to July 29.

This is small comfort for some.

"Neighborhoods are great, and everyone has their favorite, but the Mall is everybody's neighborhood," says Rosslyn resident Katie Test, an author at We Love D.C. "The Mall has been and always will be the heart of D.C."


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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