Screen on the Green kicks off on National Mall

Fans await the show to start on the National Mall in Washington D.C. (Photo By Jason Fraley)

WASHINGTON – The sun sets. The projector starts. And after a brief Bugs Bunny cartoon, the entire crowd rises to its feet, arms waving in the air in an organized dance to cheer the arrival of the feature presentation.

Welcome to Screen on the Green, HBO’s annual outdoor summer movie series on the National Mall against a Capitol Dome backdrop.

The series kicked off Monday night with Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” (1982), possibly the most immortal children’s movie ever done. A young Drew Barrymore got the biggest laughs from the crowd, and viewers cheered as the iconic image of Elliot’s bike flew across the moon. Even after all these years, on a humid summer night, John Williams’ score elicited goosebumps.

The series continues next Monday with Sally Field’s Oscar turn in “Norma Rae” (1979).

Aug. 5 brings Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971).

And Aug. 12 brings Dustin Hoffman’s cross-dressing comedy “Tootsie” (1982), co-starring Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr and Geena Davis.

Screenings begin at dusk, between 8:30 to 9 p.m., but get there early to lay out your blanket or set up your lawn chair.

The closest Metro stops are the Smithsonian station on the Blue and Orange lines and the Archives/Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter on the Yellow and Green lines.

Follow WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley on Twitter @AboveTheJFray, read his blog The Film Spectrum or listen Friday mornings on 103.5 FM.

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