NEWARK — A night of celebration at Newark Moonlight Cinema Drive, celebrating the work of Chadwick Boseman, celebrating "Black Panther" and celebrating the success of Newark’s first drive-in movie theater in four decades.
More than 400 carloads of "Black Panther" movie lovers filled Newark Moonlight Cinema Drive-in Saturday. Many were dressed like their favorite characters from Wakanda and all came to honor the life of superstar Chadwick Boseman, who died last month of cancer at age 43, shocking the world.
“No one had no idea about his personal struggles,” Ayana Stafford-Morris, co-founder of Newark Moonlight Cinema, told PIX11 News. “This is why we want to celebrate him. He’s a superhero personified."
Filmmaker Ayana Stafford-Morris and her real estate developer husband Siree Morris had the dream of opening Newark’s first drive-in since the 1980s and its success during this pandemic has surpassed all their hopes.
“I knew the idea was great. I knew it could happen,” Morris said. “But I’m very surprised, everyone who comes here says they’ll come back."
This power couple fought hard to get the rights to show "Black Panther" here and their heartfelt letter and social media campaign to Disney finally paid off, delighting these moviegoers.
“Ever since COVID started, we really wanted to support local businesses by people of color,” Brian Denu, a moviegoer from Belleville, said. “That’s really important."
Another moviegoer, Alyza Benzon of Old Bridge, added “it’s great to be out here to show our support and appreciation.”
More than 13,000 movie-lovers have come to this drive-in since it opened in July so the Newark Moonlight Cinema season has been extended until December 6 and then they’ll be back in early March.