Opening: Cinespia at Hollywood Forever | NBC Southern California

Opening: Cinespia at Hollywood Forever

"Purple Rain," "Singin' in the Rain," and "To Catch a Thief" are part of the cemetery film series.

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    "Purple Rain," "Singin' in the Rain," and "To Catch a Thief" are part of the 2016 cemetery film series. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

    Hearken back to the close of the 19th century, right around the time the first short films were beginning to flicker and bewitch. Have you hearkened? Then ponder this widely known fact of the time, one that still intrigues today: People of the era rather liked picnicking in cemeteries.

    It's a tradition that's far older than the Victorian age, of course, and yet quite contemporary, too. Look to the film series Cinespia, which is about to pull the curtain back on its 15th summer season at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

    The dining, and sipping, and socializing happens upon the cemetery's Fairbanks Lawn, and the outdoor films come to life on the side of the iconic mausoleum. Movie lovers arrive early, with picnics in tow, the better to raise a toast or two and watch the sun settle behind the mysterious, super-tall palms that have become towering symbols for the historic spread.

    Opening night? It's Saturday, May 14, and the flick is quintessentially of this region: It's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." "Purple Rain" is also on the 2016 schedule, in tender tribute to the memory of Prince, and "Singin' in the Rain," an ideal film for the movie studio-adjacent setting, will unspool.

    Yes, true, the studio over Hollywood Forever's southern wall is Paramount, and the 1952 musical was pure MGM, but you get the Tinseltown-y tone we speak of here.

    DJs send sound waves out into the assembling crowd ahead of the first swell of film music, just about the time you're setting up your blankets, pillows, and low chairs. (That's low, as in not tall, and as everyone is polite, surely these clear rules will be a snap to stick with.)

    Tickets? They're $12 to $16.

    Basking in a beautiful bucolic spot, much like the Victorians did, coincidentally just around the dawn of filmmaking? It's now very much a warm-weather, warm-of-heart tradition at Hollywood Forever.

    Flicker on, atmospheric Tinseltown tradition. Flicker on.

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