Organizers have cancelled Screen on the Green, one of D.C.'s largest (and favorite) outdoor movie festivals after sponsors HBO and Comcast pulled out -- but it's possible that a new sponsor could save the day.
"For now, it looks like Screen on the Green is not going to happen this year," Jesse Rauch, Friends of Screen on the Green president, said after the announcement Tuesday.
Screen on the Green usually begins at the end of July. For the past 17 years, massive crowds have gathered to catch classic films such as "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," usually prefaced by a Looney Tunes short, a 1980s-era HBO intro -- and a wonderfully weird, arm-flailing dance.
"Screen on the Green was the heart of the summer scene," Rauch said.
Anyone could come and sit in the glow of the monuments and watch the films for free. The event would usually run once a week for four to five weeks.
Rauch is optimistic, but unsure if a new sponsor will pick up the tab, which he estimates is about $200,000 per year. Most of the money goes to renting equipment and paying National Park Service fees.
HBO hosted the festival for 17 years, and Comcast joined on as a sponsor in 2009 after HBO said it would stop hosting the event. At the time, fans were able to save the festival: Friends of Screen on the Green coalesced, threw a black-tie fundraiser and pushed a social media campaign that persuaded Comcast to co-sponsor the event with HBO.
Screen on the Green continued through the 2015 season. It capped last summer's festival by showing "Back to the Future" on a huge screen on the National Mall.
Comcast and HBO said they were ending sponsorship because the resources are needed for other projects.
"HBO is very proud of our 17 years of Screen on the Green on the Mall. Unfortunately, this year we have decided to move on and place our resources elsewhere," HBO's statement said, according to Friends of Screen on the Green. "We thank everyone that has assisted and attended for their many years of support."
Friends of Screen on the Green asked anyone with an idea for continued sponsorship to email Jesse Rauch at firstname.lastname@example.org.