Yanaguana Garden has already hosted dozens of free community events since it opened last year. This summer, Hemisfair will add Southtown Cinema to the list. The free cinema series will kick off Aug. 6 and run through the middle of December with screenings on the first and third Saturday of the month.
Shows start at 8:30 p.m. after a happy hour with live music, food, beer, and cocktails provided by Frank at 7:30 p.m. Despite the event's name, Southtown Cinema is intended to attract people from all over San Antonio, the same way the park does. Since opening on Oct. 3, 2015, the playscape has become one of the busiest per-acre parks in Texas, attracting more than 400,000 visitors.
"We want to make it the neighborhood movie theater," said Drew Hicks, communications manager at Hemisfair Park.
Local businesses and organizations have sponsored and selected the films, and the hosts will be on-site to provide activities, food, and information.
The film lineup includes a mix of contemporary hits and classic throwbacks — from Zootopia to Karate Kid.
"We all love movies. We all love cinema," Hicks said. "Whether it’s The Goonies or It’s a Wonderful Life, these are films we grew up with. These are the films we love, and our ability to bring those to San Antonio is a huge success."
Southtown Cinema is part of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC)'s plan to bring cultural events to the park that the entire city can enjoy together.
"We see a lot of families with young children in the park and we want to continue to delight those patrons, but we also want to attract Millennials, empty nesters, and parents with older children," Hicks said.
Hemisfair hosted dozens of free movie nights in what is now a parking lot next to the Magik Theater. When the park's multimillion dollar redevelopment started, that area became off limits.
"It was hugely popular ... so we saw Southtown Cinema as an opportunity to reinvite that group back to the park," he said.
Now complete, Yanaguana Garden was phase one of the three-phased redevelopment plan. Construction continues on Civic Park, phase two of the project that will be partially done by San Antonio's Tricentennial celebration in 2018.
Ultimately, the nonprofit in charge of rebuilding the park hopes to transform Hemisfair Park from a neglected World's Fair site into an urban park district where locals can relax, play, dine, and connect with one another. Its tagline is, after all, "Where San Antonio Meets."
Aug. 6: The Never Ending Story (sponsored by Do210)
Aug. 20: The Karate Kid (sponsored by Hemisfair)
Sept. 3: Breaking Away (sponsored by Slab Cinema)
Sept.17: School of Rock (sponsored by Southtown Vinyl)
Oct. 1: Guardians of the Galaxy (sponsored by Garrison Retreats)
Oct. 15: Zootopia (sponsored by Frank)
Nov. 5: The Goonies (sponsored by Hemsifair)
Nov. 19: Three Amigos (sponsored by Alamo Beer Co.)
Dec. 3: Ratatouille (sponsored by La Frite)
Dec. 17: It’s A Wonderful Life (sponsored by Hemisfair)
Top image: An attendee wears a Hemisfair branded T-shirt as he watches a presentation during PechaKucha 22 at Hemisfair Yanaguana Garden on June 8, 2016. Southtown Cinema will be set up similarly to PechaKucha 22. Photo by Scott Ball.