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Gateway’s 24-hour ‘Groundhog Day’ marathon changes rules

Lantern file photo

While the 24-hour movie marathon on Groundhog Day has become a tradition for the Gateway Film Center, some new rules are being added to this year’s event.
Unlike in previous years, no laptops or tablets will be permitted in the theater during any of the showings of “Groundhog Day.”
“But people can still bring in their cell phones,” said Meghan Vesper, director of sales and marketing at Gateway Film Center.
The fourth annual 24-hour Groundhog Day marathon is scheduled to start on Saturday. The film center will be screening the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” 12 consecutive times starting at midnight.
“Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, is about a weatherman, Phil (Murray), who is stuck reliving the same day over and over until he finally gets it right with his love interest and co-worker, Rita (MacDowell).
Why would anyone watch a movie 12 times in a row? Those who make it through all screenings will receive 24 free movie tickets to the Gateway.
The Groundhog Day marathon is a tradition based in creativity, Vesper said.
“Our mission here is to just make it a film festival every day and to continue to do programming that no other theater in the city is going to do, so this came to his (president of Gateway Film Center) mind,” Vesper said.
While many aspects of the marathon have remained the same since it began in 2010, some changes are in store for its fourth year.
“This year we’re actually just going to be supplementing the program some,” Vesper said. “We’re going to have more trivia and prizes so I think it’s going to continue to be more of an experience for the people who come.”
The marathon has grown in popularity over the years, and this year’s marathon sold out its 136 available tickets on Jan. 16. Last year, the marathon had about 125 participants that made it through the entire 24 hours.
Advanced tickets for the marathon were $10.
Even though Groundhog Day falls on a Saturday this year, Vesper thinks the marathon still would have sold out even if it was on a week day.
“Honestly I just think that it’s had a viral nature. We’ve just seen continual growth every year that we’ve done this,” Vesper said. “I think really it has more to do with the fact that whenever somebody hears about it, they want to try it.”
Jacqueline Fisher, a third-year in public health, plans on participating in the marathon for the first time this year and thinks it will be an experience to remember. Fisher said she has not seen the film “Groundhog Day,” which she thinks will help her make it through the beginning of the marathon.
“Considering I’ve never seen it, I think the first few times I’m really going to enjoy the movie, and by the end I’m going to hate the movie,” Fisher said.
Justin Phillips, a third-year in public affairs, attended the marathon last year and is looking forward to this year’s marathon. Phillips said his group of friends found ways to pass the time during last year’s marathon.
“A lot of the time you just sleep,” Phillips said. “We bring cards and play games. We don’t actually watch the movie as much as you would think.”
Phillips said the marathon provides entertainment for the whole year as he and his friends can go back to film center and see free movies with the tickets they receive from the marathon.
“We have a large group of friends and we invite a bunch of people so it’s just like a common experience for the whole year,” Phillips said. “It’s something fun to do all year.”
For those who can’t dedicate 24 hours to sitting in a movie theater but still want to celebrate the holiday, Gateway Film Center will also be screening two individual showings of “Groundhog Day” at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for the individual showings are expected to cost $6.50

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