Outdoor Movie Night?

The May edition of the MVSNA newsletter included the following:

Over the past month, MVSNA has worked closely with the city (which owns the property), the parking lot operator (which has a 2-year lease), the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District Director Bill McLeod, Thais Austin of the 555 Massachusetts Avenue Condo Association, several ANC 6C Commissioners, and the future developers to bring life to the lot. We are in discussions with Diverse Markets to have a Sunday crafts and farmers’ market at the site. We have also organized a series of outdoor movies for the community on Sunday evenings. At this stage, we are finalizing the plans and will soon begin fundraising. We are hopeful to make this idea a reality in about one month.

While I support the idea of temporary urbanism at the 5th & Eye site the community is in an unfortunate position of not having the ramp up time to plan and secure a quality concept that can happen this summer. An Outdoor Movie Night series doesn’t have as much overhead to coordinate plan as the alternatives so I can understand how it became the focus of the MVSNA. But I’m concerned that it’s destined to fail. Will residents really want to lay a blanket down on the asphalt of a caged in surface parking lot to watch a movie?

Would you attend a movie series at the 5th & Eye parking lot?

  • Yes (49%, 53 Votes)
  • No (31%, 34 Votes)
  • Undecided (20%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 109

Loading ... Loading ...

5th and Eye Parking Lot

Be the first to like.
SociBook del.icio.us Digg Facebook Google Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon


  1. 1

    555'er says

    Is there some reason why residents have to lay a blanket down on asphalt? What about camping chairs, lawn chairs, etc…? I guess I’m confused by the implication that the only option for watching a movie on this site is to lay on the hard ground.

  2. 2

    FourthandEye says

    The storage units in my building would suggest not many have lawn/camping chairs. Also blankets seem to be most prevalent at the Rosslyn movie nights I’ve attended. The Rosslyn movie night is successful but it is held at a well landscaped and hardscaped park/plaza not a dilapidated parking lot.

    If people can honestly say they’d go to several movie nights if a series was held vote “Yes”. I just think we need a litmus test outside the usual suspects who go to all the neighborhood meetings and are highly emotionally invested. I believe in the potential of our neighborhood but sometimes you can get too wrapped up in that and need to take a step back and look at things critically. I really wonder if people want to spend 90-120 minutes of their outdoor time caged up in that parking lot for a use as passive as movie watching.

  3. 4

    muckraker says

    Maybe. It depends on the movies, really. So many neighborhoods have outdoor movies now that people can be choosy. I am fine with using low beach chairs.(Mine is in my hall closet, fourthandeye, so you wouldn’t have seen it.)

  4. 5

    555'er says

    I’m with muckraker. the movies offered will determine my attendance. we have camping chairs, in the trunk of our car that we just keep there. having an outdoor chair isn’t unheard of when living in a small space. i don’t attend any neighborhood meetings or serve on any boards so i’m not one of the highly invested that gets “too wrapped up” in things. i think its great that the people who do make things happen are trying something new, and i’d like to support it.

  5. 6

    Remy says

    Should be interesting theater when the first rat scurries by these movie watchers in their beach chairs.

  6. 7

    Sadie says

    I like the idea of having more neighborhood events taking place in the area, but am not sure an outdoor movie night is the best use for this space. Mass Ave is usually very busy and loud, many ambulances and fire trucks seem to zoom up 5th Street, and there are generally a good number of homeless hanging out right near there. Not my ideal place for a movie. I do however like the idea of a farmers market or crafts fair, that makes more sense to me.

  7. 8

    FourthandEye says

    @555’er – If the group moves forward with the movie initiative they’ll have the support of the blog in advertising. But at this stage of the planning I do think it’s worth asking aloud if this will capture the communities interest enough to be successful. It has been estimated that it will require nearly $4000 to run a movie series with 8 screenings. Before all the sweat equity of volunteers and $$ is invested gauging the interest level of the community is probably wise. So far the poll has a more positive indication than I personally would have expected.

  8. 9

    Tony says

    I think having a movie night would be fun; however, I also think some thought should be given to Remy’s comment about scurrying rats. On numerous occasions, I have seen vermin running about in this very area. I addition to there being a rat problem in general throughout the city, I assume that because this lot was recently dug up and paved, is the reason why I’ve seen them in the general vicinity. I’m sure this would be a deal-breaker for many people.

  9. 10


    I’d appreciate everyone’s input as to how to make movie nights at this location a success. I understand that the location is no “screen on the green,” but if residents are sufficiently enticed by the movie selection, if there are food options available (we are working on that aspect as well), if we can somewhat improve the physical condition of the lot, and if seating is available (5th Street Hardware sells camping chairs for just $10 which we can make available on site for those who don’t have one to bring), perhaps this can bring vibrancy to the area and make for a nice community event. Please let me know your theme ideas for the series and share any other suggestions.

    We are continuing to move forward with the Sunday market idea. At this stage, we are exploring an asian-themed market. This may take some time to set up and the idea would be to move the market to another site within the neighborhood when development at 5th and Eye is ready to move forward. However, we would like to move forward with the movie nights as soon possible.

  10. 11

    Steven says

    @Cary — one suggestion I have is setting up a brief online survey and ask questions that will let you get a sense of people’s concerns and ideas about the movie nights. Could also ask about suggestions for other uses of the site too.

    I like the movie night idea. But, one major concern I have is that it’s a very busy intersection for cars and pedestrians, and there isn’t a lot of distance of barriers between the sidewalk and the lot itself. So it’d feel like you were being observed all the time while watching the movie.

    However, if we wanted to make it more appealing for a movie night, I think that might require putting up temporary barriers of some sort (I don’t know what’s affordable and practical here–curtains over the fencing?) to make it feel a little more private and not like you’re in a cage while watching a movie.

    The food options might help there too–I assume the vendors would be placed on the perimeter of the lot. That’ll also help create some distance between the movie watchers and the street.

  11. 12

    Tony says

    The theme could be Action/Asian inspired. Films such as:

    1. House of Flying Daggers
    2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    3. Hero

  12. 14

    Thais says

    The Asian-themed movie suggestion is wonderful given the tie-in to the market concept. Just so you know, we are working to address “improving” the fencing with something like wrap signage. You are correct, the fence is an eyesore and does need a treatment of some sort.

    On Sunday nights, though, the street is much much quieter. I think the noise issue from street traffic won’t be a huge issue at that time.

    Keep the input coming!

  13. 16

    Thais says

    One of my neighbors suggested a Bollywood flick since it is Asian-themed. That could be super fun.

  14. 17


    Cary just put out a preliminary list on the MVSNA yahoo group, it includes some Bollywood suggestions..a great idea! Omg I just had another one…we could invite a Bhangra dance group for a public performance, GW has one!

  15. 18


    Steven — the film would be shown on the wall on the east side of the property, so it should be as far as possible from 5th Street traffic and light. In addition to the banners along the perimeter, we have also suggested installation of planters and will look at other ways to improve the fence. Food vendors would likely be mobile stands and park at the entrance to the lot.

    I’ve posted the movie options here: http://lifein.mvsna.org/index.cfm/2010/5/21/Choose-Your-Movies. Thanks to Tony for the great idea. Unfortunately, House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger are not available for licensing (surprisingly), but Hero is on the list. Please keep the suggestions coming.

  16. 19

    MS says

    Would it be noisy for residents? There was a marching band practicing outside this week on the lot on 4th and I around 8pm that was driving me crazy. I wouldn’t want anything there that would that do the same on a regular basis on Sunday nights.

  17. 20

    Annie says

    I love the idea of a bollywood flick!!

    MVT is developing a reputation as THE hot neighborhood. This is just one more way to build community and create a buzz about our hood. We can sit and postulate reasons why it could fail all day, how do we know if it could succeed unless it’s tried?

  18. 21

    David says

    >> “We can sit and postulate reasons why it could fail all day, how do we know if it could succeed unless it’s tried?”

    That logic would be fine if a movie night is the only event we could have tried. The community at large wasn’t solicited for input on events. This was just decided for us by a handful of people.

  19. 22

    Trianglist says

    David — I would ask you a few questions. What options would you rather have occur on that parking lot for community benefit? Were you one of the people who wrote the city about the parking lot and helped get it for some community use? Have you stepped up yourself to volunteer to make things happen for the community? If a different idea for the parking lot use was to be implemented, what would you do to make it happen? It may be easy to try to minimize volunteer efforts to “decide” and make things happen but much harder to get a decision that works and actually bring it to life. Congrats to the committee for working hard to improve our neighborhood.

  20. 23


    David – there’s no reason that we cannot consider additional community events on the 5th and Eye lot. As mentioned earlier, we are also attempting to set up a Sunday market at the site. If you have ideas for other events, please share them.