Movies outdoor is one of the NYC landmark forms of entertainment in the Summer.
From the the Hudson river to ooftop patios, and from parks to the legendary area of the Brooklyn Bridge, some of New York City’s most sensational outdoor spaces double as open-air cinemas. And to keep the City’s film buffs busy this summer, at least one timeless classic, recent favorite, low-budget indie or lighthearted family flick projects on a big screen somewhere in the City each night of the week. Take your blanket, kick off your shoes, pack something to drink and something to have a bite if action makes you hungry and use this daily guide to find a great movie under the stars on any given night while taking in some of New York’s most breathtaking scenery.
Start your week with a free classic film at the ever-popular HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival—a veritable New York institution. This summer’s weekly festival kicks off on June 15 with the Oscar-winning classic The Sting, featuring Hollywood heartthrobs Robert Redford and Paul Newman. The festival continues through August with a diverse lineup of the timeless (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), the whimsical (Gold Diggers of 1933) and the cultish (Harold and Maude). The crowd typically packs Bryant Park to the edges, so arrive early to snag a blanket-size plot on the lawn or a coveted spot on the stairs behind the New York Public Library. Another option for Monday: classic films shown weekly in July at the Elevated Acre, at 55 Water St., as part of the River to River Festival.
Tuesdays in August, grab the kids and head out to Bayside’s Little Bay Park for Movies Under the Bridge, an exciting—and free—series of family-friendly blockbusters. Located on the shores of the Long Island Sound and offering views of the Throgs Neck Bridge, this festival focuses on recent action-adventure films that will keep both kids and parents on the edges of their picnic blankets. Beginning August 18, the series packs in three weeks of thrills with 2008 box-office hits like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Wednesday nights, hop on the L train to catch SummerScreen in its new home at the McCarren Park baseball fields in Brooklyn. Kicking off a free six-week run on July 8 with Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites, SummerScreen focuses mainly on independent cult films such as David Lynch’s Wild at Heart and the Charlie Kaufman/Michel Gondry hit Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Other great Wednesday options include foreign films and international cuisine at Outdoor Cinema in Long Island City’s Socrates Sculpture Park and two festivals on the Hudson—RiverFlicks for Grown-ups and Movies Under the Stars.
Don’t miss a Thursday night at Brooklyn Bridge Park—whose skyline vistas are sure to bewitch even the most jaded New Yorker—for the 10th season of Movies With a View. “Our screen is right under the Brooklyn Bridge,” says Kellie Rogers, programming director for the park, “so a lot of people come to the movies early, and they picnic as the sun sets…. It’s sort of like an urban oasis.” This summer’s lineup, based around the theme “Stolen Summer,” showcases fun films packed with heists, chases and con artists. The free festival kicks off on July 9 with the Coen brothers’ cult classic Raising Arizona and continues to span the decades with favorites such as The Maltese Falcon, Paper Moon and Catch Me if You Can.
Welcome the weekend on Pier 46 with a free family favorite at RiverFlicks for Kids. But don’t let the name fool you; the family-friendly lineup includes crowd-pleasers that are sure to satisfy film lovers of all ages. And the festival’s striking location on the Hudson definitely makes it “something different and unique,” says David Katz, vice president of marketing and events for the Hudson River Park Trust. “It’s really a great backdrop to have the river in one direction and the City skyline in the other.” The festival premieres on July 10 with The Wizard of Oz and is followed by classics both old and new such as Ghostbusters, The Muppet Movie and Kung Fu Panda.
Saturday nights, soak up the unique serenity of an NYC rooftop while enjoying Rooftop Films’ 13th season of “Underground Movies Outdoors.” Through the fascinating, primarily documentary-based series, you can meet the filmmakers behind movies about inspiring individuals in a largely deaf Bedouin village in Israel, a burgeoning Muslim community in Pittsburgh and a politically charged Venezuelan slum. Rooftop Films also screens fun flicks on a Lower East Side rooftop on Friday nights, including the Manhattan premiere of Lynn Shelton’s comedy Humpday, a fictional account of two hyper-hetero dudes who one-up themselves into making an erotic art film—with themselves as the stars. Tickets to Rooftop Films cost $9 but generally include admission to a nearby open-bar after-party.
Kick back and wind down with a margarita and a burrito while catching a complimentary movie in the mellow courtyard of Fort Greene’s Habana Outpost. The varied lineup features a slew of NYC classics, including Do the Right Thing, Saturday Night Fever and Beat Street, as well as favorites such as Star Wars, Jaws and City of God. Be sure to arrive early to try a treat from the renowned Bike Blender, a smoothie-making device that’s powered by your own two feet.