Free film series to feature locally made movies

Free movies in Gwinnett

The Mall of Georgia’s “Movies Under the Stars” series begins May 25 and features flicks and music. Festivities get started at 5 p.m. in the Village Amphitheatre area with activities and concessions, followed by music at 6:30 p.m. and the films starting at dusk. Guests may bring blankets and lawn chairs. The mall’s address is 3333 Buford Drive in Buford.

Here’s the schedule of films and entertainers.

May 25: “Brave”; Carl Dylan Band

June 1: “Chasing Mavericks”; Bulletproof

June 8: “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”; the Woodys

June 15: “Parental Guidance”; Line 6

June 22: “Rise of the Guardians”; the Rockingbirds

June 29: “Here Comes the Boom”; Foxes & Fossils

July 4 (instead of July 6): “Playing for Keeps” after the fireworks; the Brent Gafford Band, the Vintage Boogie Band and the Woodys

July 13: “Hotel Transylvania”; Jacob Bryant Band

July 20: “The Croods”; Three Way Street

July 27: “Wreck-It Ralph”; Joe Hall Band

Gwinnett’s Mall of Georgia will feature some locally made fare this summer during its free family film series.

“Movies Under the Stars,” to be held Saturday evenings from May 25 through July 27 (along with July Fourth), will include “Parental Guidance,” the comedy starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Tom Everett Scott and Marisa Tomei; along with “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” a fantasy drama starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton (who can be seen now portraying Tom Buchanan in the “The Great Gatsby” remake).

“Odd Life,” the Mall of Georgia’s June 8 feature, was filmed in a number of metro Atlanta locations, including Newnan, Canton, Alpharetta and Decatur. It almost wasn’t filmed here, director Peter Hedges told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last summer when he and Edgerton were in town promoting the movie. “My hope had always been to shoot the film in New York,” he said, adding that the film’s small budget and Georgia’s tax incentives for filmmakers steered things south.

“The topography lent itself to the world I imagined,” Hedges said. “We all wanted the film to have a timeless quality.”

“Parental Guidance,” planned for June 15, is set in Atlanta. You’ll recognize landmarks such as the Varsity, the Georgia World Congress Center (used for an interior airport scene), the Atlanta International School and Piedmont Park. There’s a fun shopping scene at Perimeter Mall and a big laugh moment at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. (Amusingly, the on-screen family gets to the Cobb Energy Centre from the Alpharetta area by taking MARTA. It is a movie, after all.)

“I’m loving Atlanta,” director Andy Fickman told the AJC during a visit to the Piedmont Park filming location in November 2011. “Whenever you’re in a city, you hope to meld with the city. The city has really opened itself up to make this an easy shoot.”

The June 22 feature is the animated film “Rise of the Guardians,” whose director, Peter Ramsey, visited film students at SCAD-Atlanta last year. Although the movie is a fun family flick, it represents cutting-edge innovation, including some scenes “that took a lot of development and a lot of technology that didn’t exist when we started,” Ramsey said during the visit.

The June 29 feature is “Here Comes the Boom,” in which comic actor Kevin James plays a high school teacher who enters a mixed martial arts competition to raise money for the school. To prepare for the role in which his character gets pummeled, kicked, choked, walloped and body slammed, James endured twice- or even three-times-a-day workouts, running, lifting and engaging in MMA drills.

“Physically, this role was like I’ve never prepared for a role before,” he told the AJC during an interview last fall when he was here promoting the movie. “There’s nothing you can do to train to take away the pain of being punched in the face. The ache in my body took a little longer to recover because I was fighting guys who were 20 years younger than I was.”

The Mall of Georgia series concludes July 27 with “Wreck-It Ralph,” an animated film with the voices of John C. Reilly, who was here last week filming a role in “Anchorman 2,” and Jane Lynch, who has been in Atlanta in the past for work on “A.C.O.D.” and “The Three Stooges.”

“The ability to suspend your imagination is greater with an animated film,” Lynch told the AJC in an interview last year. “It makes you feel like there’s no limit.”