Everyone loves a drive-in movie during the summer. But no one wants to drive in New York City. And, well, there’s not much space for an entire drive-in anywhere in Manhattan. Like most challenges, though, this won’t stop New Yorkers. They’re going to enjoy an outdoor movie in NYC, even without a car.
Primarily, outdoor movie screenings in NYC are held on rooftops. Not only do you get to enjoy a film, but you also get to enjoy nighttime views of the city. New York City parks also offer some excellent outdoor movie screenings worth planning for. Read on for the best spots for catching an outdoor movie in NYC this summer.
Outdoor film festivals and public film series in New York City this summer
One of the most widely known outdoor film collectives is a summer festival known as Rooftop Films, which has been running for 25 years. Their summer series has already started, but Rooftop has several outdoor movie screenings a week at different venues, primarily in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
This festival is crucial in supporting the unique art scene of New York City – their mission being to screen “site-specific programs of new independent films throughout NYC from May to August.” The film screenings hosted by Rooftop Films also feature live music, performances, filmmaker Q&As. You can support local and independent art by getting a ticket to a showing that catches your interest.
Also in Brooklyn is the “Movies with a View” series run by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. This series runs for the month of August, with a movie playing every Thursday at 6 p.m. on the Pier 1 Harbor View Lawn. Before the movie begins, a DJ from Brooklyn Radio plays a set for attendees, and a short film by local filmmakers is also shown. The best part? This event is totally free, with no advanced registration required. This summer, the Conservancy is putting on “Shaun of the Dead,” “Patti Cake$,” “Akeelah and the Bee” and “The Karate Kid.”
Another free, public outdoor film event this summer is the “Free Summer Movies” event run by NYC Parks. With several options for movies to see every night of the week this summer, there’s really no going wrong with this series. With different movies being shown in all five boroughs, there’s no need to travel far. For the most part, the featured films are family friendly, with older titles such as “Adventures in Babysitting” as well as newer releases like “Raya and the Last Dragon” playing. A few adult-oriented movies will also be featured, like “Save Yourselves!” and “You’ve Got Mail.”
Outdoor movie theaters in NYC
Up for dinner and a movie? For a more bougie filmgoing experience, Seaport Cinema is here for you (and your significant other). Located at The Greens on The Rooftop at Pier 17 in Manhattan, Seaport Cinema accepts reservations for each movie a week in advance.
This outdoor cinema is playing all of the recent classics: “Remember the Titans,” “Toy Story,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Dirty Dancing” and more. What more could you ask for? Reservations are only US$5 for an 8-person lawn-space; these fees are donated to The Greens’ charity beneficiary of the month.
Brooklyn’s absolutely iconic bar/kitchen/theater, Syndicated, also has a “sidewalk cinema.” Every night of the week, you can grab a table here. It’s on a first-come-first-serve basis, so make sure to show up before 9 p.m., which is standard showtime. Rain or shine, Syndicated is showing films all summer in their outdoor (but fully covered) theater.
And be sure to order drinks and food for your group, as a purchase is required (though seating itself is free and ticket-less). The movies played this summer range from every genre/audience/rating, so we’re sure you’ll find something in your wheelhouse. If someone in your group is not an outdoors person, no worries, because Syndicated also has an indoor theater.
Usually, another must-visit outdoor movie theater in NYC is the Rooftop Cinema Club, but this iconic hangout is still closed until further notice due to COVID-19 concerns. Still, there’s always Pix on the Plaza in the Meatpacking District. This summer, they’re showing “fan favorites, cult classics, Hollywood glamour and more.” With complimentary popcorn as well as a menu full of snacks, cocktails and candy, this place is absolutely stacked. They’re playing films every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but make sure to reserve your seats in advance via their NYC outdoor movie schedule.
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