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Rants And Raves: Cinema Under the Stars

Alternate Venue Provides ‘Cinema Church’

Evening Edition

Cinema Under the Stars is celebrating two decades of outdoor movies in Mission Hills. Check out my video of this cozy alternate movie venue where you can watch classic movies every week through November.

Celebrities greet you at the door. There’s even a red carpet to walk as you enter.

"Yes, we have our own celebrities here," Doug Yeagley said. "We painted them on murals, we painted them on wood cutouts where people can walk in — It just reminds people of a simple, happy time."

Yeagley is the owner and creative director at Cinema Under the Stars. Programmer Ralph DeLauro summed up Cinema Under the Stars in one word: "Magic. We try and create an environment and an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and leave positively stimulated and wonder why they hadn’t come before."

Credit: Beth Accomando

Cinema Under the Stars

DeLauro programs movies at Cinema Under the Stars, a charming outdoor venue with a 20-foot screen, digital projection, THX sound and 60 cozy seats. Yeagley opened the theater 20 years ago next to his Tops Hair Salon.

"I think charming is it. I think enchanted, those are kind of words that kind of work…you know the twinkle lights, the orbs — there’s something a little magical feeling to it," Yeagley said.

DeLauro stands in the projection booth, which also houses Yeagley's personal collection of DVDs: "I am standing in mission control — this is where all the dastardly deeds get done…we try and assault all the senses I love, the sound of the water flowing and the lights on and off… I would hope you’d get a sense of romance, a sense of adventure, a sense of fun, a sense of a lot of hard work and effort put into your comfort, a sense of people trying to create a community."

Yeagley calls it "cinema church; you all get along, you all sing together and all of a sudden for two hours everybody likes everybody. That’s the feeling."

And Yeagley hopes that film buffs, once converted, will be singing the praises of Cinema Under the Stars. Coming up next on the outdoor screen are "Notorious" and "Roman Holiday" featuring the holy trinity of classic cinema: Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, and Audrey Hepburn.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 13, 2013 at 10:24 a.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

I can understand trying to make your money back from a film rental, but showing your personal DVD at $15 a pop . . . and on a 20-ft screen . . .

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Avatar for user 'CinemaUnderTheStars'

CinemaUnderTheStars | September 16, 2013 at 10:14 a.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

Hi Beth, thank your for the excellent interview video and for the glowing report! We appreciate your ongoing support of the Cinema! Just to be clear, Cinema Under the Stars, like all theaters, rents the films we show to the public from a film distributor. The rental fees cover "Public Performance Rights" and shipping of the films. We do not use our personal collection of DVDs for our public performances.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | September 17, 2013 at noon ― 3 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the clarification and for providing San Diego with such a lovely alternative venue to mall theaters and home theaters.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | September 17, 2013 at 4:35 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago


You sound like a fun-loving guy. Make a night of it by getting a pizza at Lefty's then watching a vintage movie "under the stars." That's a wonderful neighborhood.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | September 18, 2013 at 12:52 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

Mmmm, Lefty's! There's also Bronx Pizza (don't ask for pineapple), Bread and Cie, and Brooklyn Girl (wonderful mussels) all close by.

Now I'm hungry...and I want to watch a movie.

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