Netizens were elated recently with the announcement that the government would allow the implementation of drive-in outdoor cinemas, which would allow moviegoers to watch films from within the safety of their cars. The move was celebrated by the public who were generally restless because of the Movement Control Order (MCO), and to a larger extent, movie-lovers who fanatically want to keep up with the latest blockbusters.
However, did you know that the outdoor cinema concept is nothing new to Malaysia? Back in 2003, the inaugural Starlight Cinema threw open its doors at various, large parks around the Klang Valley. Promising “movie magic under the stars,” the outdoor cinema event series was highly successful and ran all the way until 2014, bringing the top movies of the day to Malaysian audiences picnicking under the evening and night skies.
If you were there, you would know that there was a lot more going on. Depending on the year, your memories might range from that time you and your friends watched all three LOTR films in a row, to waiting for the rain to stop under an umbrella in the middle of the field surrounded by Malaysians of all colours and creeds gathered around a gigantic 10-metre tall screen.
Movie magic brings people together, and when you think about what Malaysia is going through today, the idea of having a large-scale cinematic event at one of the Klang Valley’s many parks (with all the SOPs in place, of course) just seems to be so dreamy – except it isn’t a dream because Malaysia has done it before (and for several years).
Over 350,000 have been through Starlight Cinema’s doors. With several movies shown in a day, and tickets priced at RM10 for weekdays and RM18 for weekends, it was truly the rakyat’s cinema. Aside from the movies, there were also beer gardens, flea markets, food carts and band performances.
Before going on hiatus, in 2014, Starlight Cinema took over the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club Paintball Field and saw record-breaking audience attendance. For slightly more than a week, doors opened at 6pm each night with movies starting at 8pm onwards, featuring different themes like ‘Weekend Double Fright Night Special’ and ‘Batman Trilogy Special’ across the week. Some of the movies screened that year at Starlight Cinema include the Batman trilogy, Pacific Rim, World War Z, The Sound of Music, Man of Steel, Despicable Me, Titanic, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, The Conjuring and The Fast and The Furious 6. Starlight Cinema-goers were encouraged to dress up in their scariest outfit for the kickoff night on 13 June 2014.
2014 was also the year that an attendee proposed to his girlfriend at Starlight Cinema. The sweet wedding proposal happened during intermission, when Mr. Adrian asked for Ms. Jo Anne’s hand in marriage. After accepting his proposal, the crowd of 1,500 that night gave a huge round of applause.
Now, with the government’s decision to allow outdoor drive-in cinemas, it should come as no surprise that the OG of outdoor cinemas will be making a comeback as well. When this could happen is anyone’s guess, but with reported interest from potential sponsors (Nokia and Samsung were sponsors in the past), it might be happening sooner than you think.
Stay tuned for more info on Starlight Cinema’s potential return.
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