One of Moab’s most beloved winter events is back: SyFy Movie Nights, hosted by Nora Shepard and Richard Codd. This year’s lineup, “The Time Machine” (1960), “Forbidden Planet” (1956), and “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) features all films that are critically acclaimed, and each film follows space or time travel. The event is sponsored by the City of Moab, with support from the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission.

Shepard and Codd are passionate about science fiction movies, they said, and have been for their whole lives: both remember being blown away by “2001: A Space Odyssey” when they each saw it in theaters. In 2020, the couple decided to host the movie screenings as a way for the community to break up the monotony of winter and enjoy a fun, free event—“it’s a really cheap date,” Shepard said.

“It’s a community event,” Codd said. “It’s not Sundance, it’s for us to enjoy. We get a huge mix of people, from folks who grew up with these movies in the 50s and 60s to younger folks who have maybe just heard of them … it’s an opportunity for everyone to come see the films for free.” 

The events are quite fun: attendees are encouraged to wear costumes, and there will be door prizes and popcorn.

The series kicks off on Friday, Feb. 3 with the 1960 film “The Time Machine,” which follows an inventor in the year 1900 who constructs a time machine. As he tests out the machine and bounces forward into the future, he becomes trapped in the year 802,701, where he discovers that mankind has evolved into two species—a passive, humanoid species called the Eloi, and a dangerous, monstrous species called the Morlocks. The film is based on the book, “The Time Machine,” written by H.G. Wells in 1895.

The following Friday, Feb. 10, will screen “Forbidden Planet” (1956), in which a starship crew sets off to investigate a distant planet’s colony after realizing the colony had been silent for years. When the crew arrives at the planet, they find a powerful robot and only two survivors—and the survivors carry secrets. The film is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and in 2013, it was entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry, meaning it was deemed culturally significant and was selected for preservation. The film has fantastic reviews, with 96% of reviewers on Rotten Tomato giving it a positive review. 

The series will round out on Feb. 17 with “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). The iconic film, written and produced by Stanley Kubrick, follows two astronauts and a sentient supercomputer, HAL 9000, on a voyage to Jupiter to investigate a mysterious alien artifact. It was nominated for four Academy Awards and was also entered into the National Film Registry. 

“I was 11 or 12 when I saw [2001: A Space Odyssey],” Shepard said. “… I went with my brother, and I remember being totally blown away. It was so different than really any movie I had ever seen. It was so revolutionary, and it really kicked off a whole genre of more sophisticated sci-fi.” 

Doors open each night at 6:30 with the movies starting at 7:05 p.m. at Moab Arts (111 E. 100 N.). 

“I’ve intercepted a number of signals coming from outer space—the sky is so clear here, they’re easy to get,” Codd said. “And I believe there will be an appearance by a visitor that’s not from this area—that’s all I can say.”