Screen on the Green—the annual outdoor summer film screening series on the National Mall—has been cancelled after 17 years.
In a post on its website, Friends of Screen on the Green’s president, Jesse Rauch writes that HBO and Comcast, who have sponsored the screening series since its inception, “have decided to discontinue hosting Screen on the Green in D.C., effective this summer.” In a phone conversation with Arts Desk, Rauch says that he learned of the decision on Friday. “They gave me a personal phone call to let me know what was happening,” he says.
But the cancellation is not unprecedented: In 2009, HBO pulled out of sponsoring Screen on the Green, but Friends of Screen on the Green started a campaign to save the series. “We demonstrated how important Screen on the Green was to the D.C. community,” Rauch wrote. “We held a big event at the Spy Museum, with tuxedos and gowns, and succeeded in saving our beloved summer event.” The same thing happened the following year, in 2010, and a social media campaign once again saved Screen on the Green.
But Rauch doesn’t think HBO and Comcast will be swayed this time. “I think they are pretty final in their decision,” he says. “There was an expectation that the shoe was going to fall, that we would be discussing the future of Screen on the Green. But I don’t think we could have ever predicted when that would be. We underestimated our naïveté.”
It’s possible that Screen on the Green could be saved for the future, but it won’t be with HBO and Comcast sponsoring, Rauch thinks. “We put out a couple of feelers,” he says. “I’m cautiously optimistic. You never know what will happen… and it’s only been two-and-a-half hours since [we] announced Screen on the Green’s cancellation.”