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Welcome to Illini Insider, your regular dose of news from the University of Illinois beat writer Luke Taylor. Fresh out of college, he’s always on the lookout for story suggestions, photo ideas, and social media mentions. Send him an email at [email protected] and he will hunt.
If you missed a movie in theaters this spring but still want to see it on a big screen, check out Illini Union’s Summer Films on the Quad.
Jason “JB” Bailey, deputy director of programs at the union, says sticking around for showings after making announcements is just a perk of the job.
Movies are selected by students from the Illini Union Board, usually with the idea of offering them before they reach streaming services.
The council obtains the public viewing rights from Swank Motion Pictures, which serves as a link between film studios and schools, libraries, cruise ships and even correctional facilities.
Sometimes, UI administration needs to intervene in movie decisions.
“A few years ago, I had a student who really pushed the envelope and wanted to show ’50 Shades of Grey,'” Bailey said.
The deal is that outdoor big-screen movies need to be family-friendly to avoid upsetting anyone on campus in the evening.
More explicit content may be shown in Pine Lounge screenings during the school year, but summer films tend to stick to the PG-13 rating.
“If we show something that’s rated R, it’s just for the language,” Bailey said.
That must be going pretty well: When Bailey started her job in 2016, movies were only monthly. Now, every Thursday is a movie night with an average of 300 people in attendance this summer.
Previous showings have drawn larger numbers: “Black Panther” filled the quad with 2,000 admissions, but “Raya and the Last Dragon” shattered records, with 5,000 in attendance.
‘Raya’ was the first film to screen on the Quad after a pandemic break and set the tone for the rest of that summer with very high attendances at each screening.
Movies start at 9pm and are free to watch. The Quad Shop in the union stays open until 10, offering snacks and drinks.
On tonight’s show is “Renfield,” a vampire comedy starring Nicolas Cage as Dracula.