Courthouse Sunken Garden filled with people.
The Courthouse Sunken Garden in downtown Santa Barbara fills up with move-goers during the summer for free outdoor film screenings. This year’s series, Animated Nights, kicks off at 8:30 p.m. Friday with the ‘19th Animation Show of Shows.’ (Eric Isaacs photo)

Seven is definitely the lucky number for this year’s series of free summer movies at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden: It’s the seventh year and the films feature James Bond, Agent 007 himself.

The free summer movies tradition runs through August and starts with the first film, Dr. No, on July 5 at UC Santa Barbara’s Campbell Hall and July 7 at the courthouse at 1100 Anacapa St. in downtown Santa Barbara.

UCSB Arts & Lectures and the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission team up to host the annual film series, and this year’s theme was picked as some lighter entertainment, said Roman Baratiak, associate director of UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Eight James Bond films have been chosen: Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, GoldenEye and Skyfall.

The films will be shown twice, at the courthouse Sunken Garden at 8:30 p.m. Fridays and at the Campbell Hall at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, with the exception for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which will be shown only at Campbell Hall due to an Old Spanish Days event at the courthouse.

“We love opening our backyard, literally, to the community — that is the ethos of the Office of Arts & Culture but also County Parks, which is our sister division in the county Community Services Department,” said Sarah York Rubin, executive director of the county Office of Arts & Culture.

“It’s always wonderful to watch the diverse mix of friends and family who meet to enjoy each other and a classic film in beautiful surrounds. It’s become an iconic fixture in Santa Barbara, and we are so pleased to support it.”

Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1964 hit,
 Goldfinger, one of the eight films selected for this year’s summer movie series at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden.

Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1964 hit,
Goldfinger, one of the eight films selected for this year’s summer movie series at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden. (Eon Productions photo)

The summer movie series has been getting larger and larger crowds, and turnout recently has varied from 2,000 to 3,000 people, organizers say. Around noon on the day of the film, people will often set up their blankets and beach chairs on the courthouse lawn.

During this noon blanket rush, Baratiak and Rubin are out there with the rangers and volunteers to help with crowd control as the spot claiming can get competitive.

“We also have to ensure that there are clear aisles for safety and accessibility, which requires vigilance with such a high volume of people,” Rubin said.

“Everybody has been very respectful of each other and the gardens, though, which is one of the reasons we can keep hosting the series summer after summer.”

Each summer, the screenings have included DJs, costume contests, special guests, band performances, silent films and piano accompanists.

Organizers are currently in the process of planning event additions for this summer.

Noozhawk intern Julia Lee can be reached at news@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.