Starry, starry nights make for movie magic | Jeanne Souldern The Sopris Sun

July 3, 2024

Starry, starry nights make for movie magic | Jeanne Souldern The Sopris Sun

Watching a movie outdoors at night can be enchanting. Surrounded by a sky full of stars, a cool breeze and a mountain backdrop, the scene evokes a sense of community and nostalgia. This experience returns this month as Cinema Under the Stars, in front of Ajax Tavern, at the base of Aspen Mountain.

The Sopris Sun recently spoke with May Selby, director of public relations and social media at The Little Nell Hotel in Aspen, to see what is in the making for this summer’s film series.

Selby shared that she and Susan Wruble, Aspen Film’s executive and artistic director, were discussing ideas for a fun event to bring the community together with a vibe that is reminiscent of “old Aspen,” she said. Cinema Under the Stars, now in its second year, became the perfect match with Aspen Film curating the films and The Little Nell creating the ambience.

When asked what last year’s moviegoers thought of the experience, Selby reported, “People who attended loved it and everyone wanted more. They said, ‘Can you have this every year?’” She continued, “This year, we’re excited to expand the event with four classic comedies, perfect for an open-air setting.”

The outdoor film series kicks off on July 15 with “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” starring Matthew Broderick as a high school senior who, before graduation, ducks out of school for the day. The 1986 film, directed by John Hughes, is considered a comedy classic.

Selby shared an anecdote from a winter film series a few years ago: An Aspen newspaper article, previewing the screening of the 1994 comedy “Dumb and Dumber,” caught the attention of Brad Krevoy, the film’s producer and a part-time Aspen resident. Krevoy surprised the audience by attending the screening and sharing behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the making of the film.

“We aim to create those kinds of memorable experiences,” she said. “Our goal is to find a tie-in for each film, whether it’s a guest appearance or a related story.”

The film series runs in July and August, with showtimes starting around sunset. Guests are encouraged to arrive early to find their seats or to be guided to their reserved spots. An on-site concession stand will feature a menu curated by Little Nell’s pastry chef, including house-made flavored popcorns, a limited snack menu and specialty cocktails available for purchase.

Three seating options are available:

1. VIP Seating: Sold in pairs, includes sling-back lounge chairs, blankets, a side table, and dedicated service of popcorn, cookies and other snacks, along with bottled water and a bottle of champagne. Seating is limited to 36 seats per screening and the cost for two people is $200, plus tax and gratuity.

2. General Admission: Includes a designated area with beach blankets and fold-up stadium chairs available at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis.

3. Bring Your Own Blanket: You don’t have to sign up; just come and bring your own lawn chairs and blankets.

Event organizers request that attendees leave their pets at home and that no outside food or beverages be brought into the event area.

“There’s something magical about watching a film outside,” Selby concluded. “It’s nostalgic and fun, and we love creating those meaningful moments for people to enjoy.”

In addition to the Cinema Under the Stars, Aspen Film’s Kids Summer Film Series programming is screening kid-friendly animated films every Wednesday at 11am, through Aug. 14 for a $1 admission at the Aspen Film Isis Theatre.

For more information or to purchase VIP seating tickets, go to The Little Nell website at  For film trailers, visit

Cinema Under the Stars lineup
July 15 – “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
July 29 – “European Vacation”
Aug. 5 – “Overboard” (1987 version starring Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell)
Aug. 26 – “As Good as It Gets”


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