Wellingtonians were treated to their first $3000 council-funded outdoor film of the summer when Films By Starlight kicked off in Waitangi Park.
The open air cinema series, in its sixth year, is produced by Cuba Street Carnival organiser Chris Morley-Hall.
Audience capacity for the annual public film screenings has doubled thanks to a new inflatable screen that he had custom designed to expand the scale of the events.
"This should, hopefully, cement Wellington as a global centre for film with a good public outdoor cinema series," Morley-Hall said.
The 14 metre by 10 metre canvas screen inside an inflatable frame was created by Levin inflatables experts Canvasland, whose previous projects include building bouncy castles. They were chosen for the job over cheaper options in China for the ease of having local ongoing maintenance and support.
"We've built a number of smaller screens but this was about two metres wider and a metre higher than anything else," Canvasland managing director Brendan Duffy said. "The main challenge was simply the dimensions of the thing. It's a monster."
In the process of making it, Canvasland had to determine the volume of air, capacity and pressure needed to sustain it staying in place. The base was stabilised to provide tension.
Duffy described the screen as being "like a huge yacht sail", able to withstand wind speeds of up to 37kmh.
The average wind speed in the capital, measured at Wellington Airport, is 29kmh.
About 1200 people attended the screening of pedigree dog competition mockumentary Best In Show on Wednesday, at a cost of about $2.50 a head to the council.
"It's a pretty cheap way of entertaining a whole lot of people," Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said.
Using a projector to display films on the stretched matte canvas was less expensive and had better pixel display than the LED screens on trucks that were used for public showings of Lord Of The Rings films during the week of The Hobbit premiere in November.
The audience capacity for that method was about 1000, but the new canvas screen was twice the size and could comfortably entertain about 2000 people.
"The screen we're doing is considerably bigger but it's a projected screen so you need a really large projector and you need darkness," Morley-Hall said.
"That makes it an evening or night-time event and considerably cheaper than renting a truck LED screen, which is quite an expensive setup."
The council was unable to immediately provide figures for the cost for each screening of Lord Of The Rings films during November with LED screens as it was bundled up into the $1.1 million total budget for marketing The Hobbit.
Films such as Dirty Dancing, Boy and The Blues Brothers will be played for the public this month around Wellington and in Lower Hutt.
For a schedule go to www.filmsbystarlight.co.nz.
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