Movie Mondays are back and better than ever!
One of Segerstrom Center’s most fun summer offerings for nearly 15 years has been our wildly popular Movie Mondays series. Held outside on the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza on balmy Monday evenings throughout the summer, these free movies under the stars have been pleasing our patrons since 2007.
The original idea for a free outdoor film series was initially sparked by Jonathan Vietze, Senior Director of Series Marketing here at the Center. Back then, Vietze was the Center’s Advertising and Promotions Manager, and the idea came about because there were no ticketed shows scheduled on our stages in the summer of 2007. Vietze wanted to come up with a fun way to keep patrons in the habit of coming to the Center.
“Originally, we were happy if there were 300 people,” said Vietze, “but it grew and grew and grew and eventually became an OC institution—one that is now replicated elsewhere throughout the county. Mulan was our biggest movie ever, with an estimated 3,000 people in attendance—the same number that can fit inside Segerstrom Hall.”
Movie Mondays history:
If you build it, they will come
That first year, the films shown were Singin’ in the Rain, West Side Story, Xanadu, and Moulin Rouge — all movie musicals. Vietze’s vision of a courtyard (before the Argyros Plaza came to be) filled with patrons in beach chairs with picnic baskets came to pass. The event was a wild success, many patrons attending all four movies over the course of that first summer, and soon the big question seemed to be, “Will you be doing this again next year?”
The answer, of course, was a resounding “yes!” Many patrons come back year after year, making a point to tell Center staffers that they had attended every single Movie Monday event since it began. The Center started bringing food trucks onto the Plaza, providing patrons with different food options if they didn’t want to bring their own picnics. The event began to grow not only in popularity but in scope as well, with Vietze planning activities, games, and contests to entertain patrons in the early evening hours before the movies begin at dusk. Eventually, after working alongside him for Movie Mondays, the Center’s Audience Engagement team—a sub-group of Center employees who plan fun ways to engage our patrons with things like photo opps or interactive games and activities in our lobbies—acquired Movie Mondays planning from Vietze. Over the years, contests and activities at the Monday evening events have included everything from lip sync battles to costume contests to a Santa Claus flash mob to—yes—a time machine made out of a DeLorean.
Bigger and better than ever
While the first three years of Movie Mondays featured four films each, the number increased to five in 2010. We’ve continued showing five free films to the public each summer until 2020, when the world shut down, and our stages—including our Plaza—were dark for a little over a year.
Earlier this year, Audience Engagement was officially given the green light to begin planning the return of the popular crowd favorite. This year’s movie selections were chosen as a direct result of our upcoming 2022-2023 Broadway season; all five movies being shown this summer are also big Broadway productions coming to Segerstrom Hall this year: Moulin Rouge, To Kill a Mockingbird, Disney’s Frozen, Hairspray, and Chicago.
Many things have changed over the course of Movie Mondays’ history. We went from having just an empty courtyard out front, to the Plaza under construction in 2017 (moving the films that year out to the former grassy lawn adjacent to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall), to a new layout in the newly inaugurated Argyros Plaza in 2018, to where we are today. This year, our setup on the Plaza has changed slightly to accommodate for construction, but don’t worry, it’s still free with a reservation!
But despite the changes, one thing has remained fixed and true over the years: Center audiences LOVE Movie Mondays, and they will continue to come back to it, year after year.