Drive-in movie theaters are a tradition of the past, but The Pabst has recreated the experience at one of the city’s choice spots – the lakefront at Discovery World. The Fish Fry and Flick outdoor movie series kicked off last Friday with the zany spoof on male modeling, Zoolander.
Movies are projected onto a giant inflatable screen anchored to the pier that juts out into the water. The amphitheater-style seating fills up with crowds of 3,000 or more each event. “Since we are cooped up so long, Milwaukeeans are balls to the wall in the summer. This series gives people something to look forward to at the end of the summer when we aren’t ready for it to be over just yet,” says Andy Nelson, public relations manager.
The cultural savants at The Pabst are responsible for the movie selections. They begin with a long list that slowly gets whittled down to mostly cult films and comedies. The only requirement is that it is fit for an adult audience. The lineup for the remainder of this year is:
August 17 – Grease Sing-a-Long
August 24 – Pulp Fiction
August 31 – Dark Side of Oz
September 7 – Major League
They try not to duplicate movies from year to year, though they have brought back movies like Pulp Fiction and The Big Lebowski by popular demand. Nelson thinks the most highly anticipated movie this season is Major League, having so many ties to Milwaukee. (It was filmed at County Stadium, in case you didn’t know. I didn’t!) And although they don’t encourage it, event organizers love to see when people arrived costumed like their favorite movie character.
Movies start as dusk, though get there as early as 5 pm to enjoy, food, froth and activities. Aside from chairs and blankets, no carry-ins are allowed. The flick is free, but the fish fry is $10, considering it’s from Bartlotta’s, that’s still a pretty good deal. If fried fish isn’t your thing (in which case, you must not be from Wisconsin) there are plenty of food trucks on hand like Satellite Crepes, Fast Foodie, Streetza Pizza and Tiger Bite.
And smart to give credit where credit is due, Nelson tells me that the series is really the brainchild of Michael Cudahy (who owns both Pabst and Discovery World). “I just can’t say enough about the cool stuff going on at Discovery World and how much they do for the community,” he says.
The Pabst also has a series in the winter months called Beer and a Movie (BAAM) at Turner Hall. It’s much smaller, with only about 300 people per event and they tend to stick to “more cultish stuff.”
“It’s rare to have an adult movie series in a public space. We are doing this to bring some attention to a great asset in our city. We have something different here that I hope we can keep going for a long time,” says Nelson.