Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Movie theater in Hickory Lodge - May 2001 (National Archives)

Movies are shown in several locations around Camp David.  President Eisenhower enjoyed watching movies in the Aspen Lodge and had a projection booth installed along with a motorized screen that retracted into the living room ceiling.   Eventually, the use of VCRs and DVD players replaced the need for the projector.  However, when President Reagan was in office, he still preferred using the film projector at Aspen over the VCR and enjoyed watching old movies from the 1930s and 1940s. The Ronald Reagan Presidential library has a list of all of the films he viewed while in office including 344 movies at Camp David! 

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan watching "Lord Jim" in 1985 (Reagan Library)

Movies are also shown at a small theater inside the Hickory Lodge. The 2007 book What A Party! describes a 1998 "Good Will Hunting" screening weekend at Camp David attended by a group including Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, and Gwyneth Paltrow.  After having dinner at Laurel Lodge,  the group headed off in golf carts to the theater in Hickory where "everyone sits on couches or overstuffed chairs and in the front row are two love seats."  

Hillary Clinton writes in her memoir that her daughter Chelsea and a "busload of friends" celebrated her 16th birthday at Camp David.  Following a birthday dinner at Laurel Lodge, they headed over to Hickory to watch movies and go bowling.

During the 1978 Camp David peace negotiations, a movie projector was set up in Holly and 58 films were shown there over the 13-day summit.  Laurel Lodge also has a big-screen TV.

When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met with President Eisenhower at Camp David in 1959, the two leaders watched a U.S. Navy movie about the nuclear submarine Nautilus; they also watched a Western. The following is a list of movies that were available for viewing during that visit:

From the "Camp David Operation Plan 2-59"

Presidential diaries also give us a glimpse into the movie-watching activities at Camp David.  Here are some entries from Richard Nixon's diary over two weekends in September 1970 and Jimmy Carter's diary from 1977.

Excerpts from President Richard Nixon's Daily Diary - September 1970

Excerpt from the Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter

Sources:  The President is at Camp David;  What A Party!; Living History; Time; Eisenhower Presidential Library; Nixon Presidential Libary; Jimmy Carter Library; Ronald Reagan Library; National Archives


  1. The picture titled "The Reagans watching the movie "The Natural" at Camp David in 1984" is incorrect. That picture was taken at the White House theater. Camp David does not have movie theater-style seating as depicted in that picture.

    1. Good catch - that photo has been replaced with a photo of them watching a movie in Aspen Lodge.