Free holiday movies a gift to community from Dec. 26-30 at Memorial Auditorium
WORTHINGTON — What more could you want for Christmas than free entertainment?
Later this month, the city-owned Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center (MAPAC) will give back to the community with a chance to enjoy holiday-themed movies on the house.
Classic favorites “Elf” (2 p.m. Dec. 26), “A Christmas Story” (2 p.m. Dec. 27), “The Polar Express” (2 p.m. Dec. 28), “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (2 p.m. Dec. 29), “It’s a Wonderful Life” (2 p.m. Dec. 30) and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (7 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30) are all scheduled.
“This is a Christmas gift from Memorial Auditorium to the public,” said Tammy Makram, MAPAC’s managing director, “and an opportunity for people who perhaps haven’t been here before to come and see how great watching movies at Memorial really is.
“What I’ve found is that it’s sometimes hard to get people in the doors the first time, but once they’ve been here, they return again and again because of the wonderful movie-viewing experience they have.”
While Worthington still lacks a commercial movie theater, that doesn’t mean there’s zero opportunity to see films on the big screen here.
It’s been 17 months since MAPAC opened its doors to moviegoers on weekends when live shows aren’t in play, and Makram would like to keep offering what she’s dubbed “Movies at Memorial.”
“We have plenty of seats, and this is a wonderful place to see films,” Makram recommended. “Our screen is about 24 by 14 feet — larger than many screens in many smaller commercial theaters — and we have a digital projector that displays a movie theater-quality picture.
“And we added surround-sound to our own sound system, so you’re all set for a total movie experience.”
Makram envisions the upcoming week of free movies as a way of introducing individuals and groups of all kinds to the MAPAC movie experience.
“We’d like to keep ‘Movies at Memorial’ going, but there is a cost to the effort and we need more people to attend,” said Makram, referring to the licensing fee that must be paid for each movie whether 50 or merely five people show up for a particular viewing.
“I’ve read over and over again that ‘there’s nothing to do’ in Worthington, but there is something to do because here at Memorial, we either have movies or live events going on every weekend,” she continued.
“In order to continue offering movies, as well as live events, we need people to come out and support us. And we’ve kept the ticket price for movies here extremely reasonable, only $5.”
This weekend, MAPAC has the PG-rated “Despicable Me 3” on tap at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. “Despicable Me 3” is the third in a vastly popular animated movie series from Universal Pictures featuring the ongoing adventures of Gru and his iconic Minions. (The WHS all-school production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” fills the MAPAC stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.)
Typical movie-theater concessions — hot buttered popcorn, candy and cold beverages — are for sale during all MAPAC movie showings, with Friends of the Auditorium volunteers working the counter.
“The movies we show are usually relatively recent releases,” said Makram. “We go after hot movies as soon as they become available to us, and I’m very open to hearing what people would like to see.”
Makram also reminds that MAPAC is available for private movie screenings, whether for churches, youth groups, businesses or other organizations.
“Just contact me for information on rates and availability,” Makram said of the group option.
If greater numbers of people turn out to see “Movies at Memorial,” including this weekend’s scheduled “Despicable Me 3,” Makram is certain that would also send a positive message to city officials and investors.
“We’d demonstrate to the potential theater developers that there is a real demand for movies in Worthington,” suggested Makram.
For more information about upcoming Movies at Memorial, visit friendsoftheauditorium.com, view the Memorial Auditorium Facebook page or call 376-9101. “Despicable Me 3” is at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; doors open a half hour prior to showtime.