Has Chicago’s ‘floating cinema’ stunt capsized?

With just over two weeks to go until the scheduled launch of boats for movie viewing, there still are no tickets for sale and no details on a location.

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People in Paris watch the movie “Le grand bain” from boats on July 18, 2020.

GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images

With just over two weeks to go before the scheduled launch of a “floating cinema” allowing Chicagoans to watch movies from boats, it’s looking unlikely that the stunt will be happening on time — if it’s happening at all.

The idea was to show films on a waterfront screen for viewing by people in mini-boats that could hold up to eight people each. A July 20 announcement, covered by the Sun-Times and other local media, said a Chicago run was planned Sept. 9-13.

At the time, no locations or movie titles were revealed. Now the ticket site says the original dates have changed “due to COVID” but lists no new dates. Instead of selling tickets, it offers registration for emails with future updates.

A request for clarification from the project’s spokeswoman was not returned.

The same company had announced floating cinema plans in Houston, Miami, Orlando, New York, Austin, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Cincinnati, as well as three cities in Canada.

While unusual, the floating cinema concept isn’t unprecedented. Last month 150 people in Paris watched a movie from small electric boats anchored in a canal basin as part of Paris Plages, an annual beach festival.

UPDATE ON AUG. 26: A spokeswoman for the floating boat cinema confirms that the Sept. 9-13 run will not take place and adds, “We are hoping for end of 2020 now.”

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