New Jersey Company Offers Socially Distant Entertainment to Bring Families Together
JACKSON, NJ - They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Sometimes, it inspires reinvention, as well. For PJ Windle, the owner and CEO of Back to the Movies, it was the impact of the COVID-19 crisis that led him to establish the New Jersey-based company. His goal is to fill the void of safe entertainment options that so many people have been missing in recent months. In doing so, he’s also able to provide a bit of nostalgia for those who may not yet be able to venture back into movie theaters, but would like to enjoy a revival of the classic drive-in movie experience.
“Back to the Movies was developed out of a need to bring entertainment and cinema back to communities all over New Jersey. We felt the desire was strong to have outside entertainment that is respectful to social distancing rules and gives people comfort as they go back to the movies,” explained Windle, who has more than 20 years of experience in wedding and event entertainment. He’s also the owner of Essential Sounds Entertainment, planning and hosting special events, festivals, and corporate functions, and is a TV and internet personality with his own program, Essential Guy Talk. His is one of many industries that have felt the hit of COVID, but his professional expertise and access to top-of-the-line equipment allow him to bring pop-up outdoor cinema to a new level.
Windle has been in discussions with municipalities throughout New Jersey that have shown interest in providing a fun way for residents to view films together in a unique setting while maintaining safe social distances. He is also working with schools, restaurants, and other venues that have large enough parking areas to accommodate drive-in audiences. He has assembled a highly-skilled team of sales and event professionals, including his wife Jillian Windle, who is taking control of all marketing, company branding, and coordination of the individual event details; his brother Sean Windle, who is handling the North Jersey events, and longtime colleague Greg Lassik, who is taking on many of the South Jersey events.
Movies are viewed on a high-quality LED video wall or an inflatable screen using multiple state-of-the-art projectors, with audio transmitted on an FM radio station or available through external speakers. Families can bring their own refreshments or preorder snacks online from food trucks that will be onsite and deliver right to their vehicles. For now, the company will be featuring popular classic titles but is working on acquiring licenses for some first-run films, also.
Back to the Movies will present its inaugural events with three screenings for a total of 450 cars on Sunday, May 31, 2020 (rescheduled from May 29 due to the weather forecast) at Johnson Memorial Park in Jackson, NJ. The township council has provided all of the tickets for free to Jackson residents only, who will have the opportunity to see the 1956 musical classic “The King and I” at 3 pm, the 2005 animated comedy adventure “Robots” at 6:15 pm, or the epic 1977 sci-fi action film “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” at 9 pm. Another date is planned for mid-June for Jackson Township high school seniors.
Future movies dates and details will soon be announced for the New Jersey towns of Garfield, Howell, Keyport, Middletown, Tinton Falls, and Point Pleasant, with more to come. Back to the Movies will also be presenting the Rutgers Preparatory Commencement Ceremony on June 7.