Five space-themed films shown for free this season

The Cinema Under the Stars series returns! This year things are looking up as The City of Rancho Mirage, in partnership with Desert Recreation District, presents five space-themed favorites. All movies (and popcorn) are free to the public; gates open at 6:30 p.m. and films begin at sunset.  They include:


April 13: “Apollo 13”:The number 13 is synonymous with bad luck.  What could be a more appropriate kick-off for the series than starting on the 13th with this 1995 award-winning Ron Howard film about the ill-fated NASA mission? The seventh manned mission in the Apollo space program was the third intended to land on the Moon until, “Houston, we have a problem.”


April 20: “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”: It’s been more than 40 years since the release of this 4-star Steven Spielberg classic. If you’ve never seen this award-winning film on the big screen before, you must catch this story of the blue-collar worker in Indiana whose life is changed forever after an encounter with an unidentified flying object. For those who’ve seen it before, watch it like the first time and look for R2-D2 (yes, of “Star Wars” fame) making a cameo.


April 27: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”: Don’t forget to pack Reese’s Pieces and a few tissues for this moving 1982 Steven Spielberg film. Considered by many, including the American Film Institute, to be one of the greatest American movies ever made, it is the story of a boy who befriends an extraterrestrial stranded on Earth. Elliott and his siblings (including 7-year-old Drew Barrymore) help E.T. return home.


May 4: “Space Cowboys”: Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner star as four older “ex-test pilots” sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite in this 2000 film directed by Eastwood.


May 11: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”: Also known as “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” this 2015 film was the first not to involve creator George Lucas. The story is the first installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy and was produced, co-written and directed by J. J. Abrams.  Set 30 years after the Empire’s defeat, a new threat arises and Stormtrooper defector Finn and the scavenger Rey search for a missing Luke Skywalker.


Dinner and a movie during Cinema Under the Stars series

Before heading to Rancho Mirage Amphitheater, make a night of it and enjoy a meal at one of dozens of local restaurants. Better yet, get something to go and take it along. Filmgoers are welcome to bring food and drink (including adult beverages) to this free outdoor cinematic experience. Grab a few burgers, barbeque or even poke bowls and enjoy a picnic during these out-of-this-world films. Don’t forget to bring your blanket or lawn chairs for your full cinema under the stars experience!


See stars in Rancho Mirage

Feeling inspired by these space-themed films? Get a bit closer to the heavens at the Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory or book a two-hour Sky Watcher Star Gazing Tour for a stargazing experience in Joshua Tree. With so much to see up there, consider staying in town for a few dark nights. Rancho Mirage has a number of hotels and resorts with spacious rooms, poolside patios, private villas and other options to suit all your needs.