Movies in the Backlot

Serendipity food ordering tent located in the South Hill Serendipity Backlot. 

The Drifters said it best, people will, indeed, be having some fun on the Backlot (Backlot)— or was it someplace else?

In any case, Serendipity’s BackLot, the caterer’s new outdoor restaurant and bar on the South Hill Business Campus, 950 Danby Road,  which was unveiled last week, is a place of much of excitement, especially now that it has teamed up with Cinemapolis to create “Movies on the Backlot.” Sept. 4 marked the first screening with Wes Anderson’s ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’. It was re-screened the following day. 

Every Friday and Saturday, Cinemapolis owner Brett Bossard and Serendipity owner Stephanie Holzbaur will bring the art house classics movie-goers love and the American-mix cuisine foodies love to eat. This will mark Cinemapolis’s first in-person viewing since it was forced to move to entirely virtual showings since April.

This new series marks another “pivot” for the non-profit movie theater, as it manages to fulfill its mission during the COVID pandemic. “When Stephanie approached me with the idea for an outdoor screening series, I jumped at the opportunity to show movies again,” says Cinemapolis executive director, Brett Bossard. The cinema has been closed since March 13 and is awaiting guidelines from the governor’s office on when and how it can safely re-open. 

“Movies on the Backlot” has allowed the theatre to reconnect with moviegoers who might’ve missed the in-person theatre experience. Since the start of summer, a number of drive-in theatres have popped up around Ithaca and surrounding towns.

Holzbaur said she feels that the program is a natural extension of the services Serendipity already provides. “Cinemapolis is a perfect addition to the Backlot,” she said. “This series will only enhance our space where the whole family can feel comfortable and safe while enjoying great food, drink, and now movies!” 

This is the latest partnership between Cinemapolis and Serendipity. The caterer has helped host the annual Awards Night Party at the cinema for the last two years.

Serendipity’s Backlot was already designed with socially distanced seating in mind, as well as an online ordering menu and payment for contactless transactions. The Backlot film screenings are located an exceptional distance from the dining area in order to achieve optimal dimness and quiet. The Serendipity menu features a broad selection of foods, drawing upon their own local farm as well as several local vendors and distributors for its offerings. It also includes options for kids, as well as house-made dog treats and a wide beverage menu.

Serendipity will also be serving popcorn with the Cinemapolis’ signature nutritional yeast topping, said Holzbaur. 

Weather permitting, these outdoor screenings will continue on Friday and Saturday evenings for the next several weeks. Updates on upcoming titles and other special offers will be available at and on the Facebook pages for Cinemapolis and The Backlot. The next screening will be on Sept. 11 and 12.

To make reservations for Serendipity visit their website. 


Interim Managing Editor

Glenn Epps is an Ithaca College alum who's held previously held positions at The Ithacan as a reporter and podcaster, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, and Ithaca's Kitchen Theatre Company. He's an active tweeterhead at glenn_epps_.

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