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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Outdoor Classic Movie Screenings All Summer

There’s nothing like the great outdoors to really enjoy the most summer has to offer. For those old enough to remember, Drive In movies were the ideal warm weather evening event. And, today we have so many more cool possibilities available before the chill sets in. Don’t just sit there on your couch! It’s summer time, and according to the LA events calendars there’s a movie playing on an outdoor big screen somewhere! No kidding. Giant public outdoor screenings seem to be the rage now a days, and that’s good news to most folks trying to find fun and interesting things to do with friends and family during the dog days. So, take advantage of the trend while it and the fine weather lasts. With all the locations from which to chose you’re bound to find an open air screening happening near you. Below are a few select suggestions in which to start your search.

CINESPIA at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (located at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd in LA) is a personal favorite of mine, and very likely the hippest movie showcase amongst this batch of organized screenings. With a DJ and beloved cult programming you know you’re in for a good time whenever you enter those iron gates. For a full list of the season’s remaining films and scheduled DJs you can check out their site (link). Season final highlights include The Dark Crystal, The Lost Boys, and Back To The Future. Gates open at 7:30PM with the movie playing at 9:00PM. Tickets now run $12 per person, and picnics are still highly encouraged.

For those looking for a more old school, LA vibe check out STREET FOOD CINEMA (link) happening at Exposition Park near USC (700 Exposition Park Dr.) The Street Food Cinema experience is three events in one, starting with some of the most delicious food trucks in town providing food for an outdoor picnic that evolves into a live music performance from emerging Los Angeles music artists, and finishes up with a popular movie on a big outdoor screen. The summer season runs every Saturday until September 21st, including an August 31st summer classic double bill of St. Elmo’s Fire and Reality Bites.

OSCARS OUTDOORS is an official Academy venue located at Homestead & Vine in Hollywood (link) on the block just behind the Arclight Theatre. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opened the outdoor screening park in 2012 after deciding not to build a movie museum on the lot, and it turns out to have been a very wise and entertaining decision. Not only has the location proved to be a popular destination for movie buffs but whenever screenings take place a wide variety of gourmet food trucks line the street, providing moviegoers with terrific picnic fare. Upcoming Oscar favorites include Safety Last on Friday, August 9.

The truly adventuresome should check out the ELECTRIC DUSK DRIVE-IN, which operates out of an old produce market site in the Fashion District on San Juan Street and East 11th in downtown Los Angeles near the 10, 5, 101, and the 110 Freeways. They show a mix of adult and family friendly films throughout the summer, so be sure to check their website to plan your outing accordingly for you and your party. These guys function year round, so don’t forget about them when winter comes. Little Shop of Horrors plays Saturday, August 3, with Vertigo marking the finale of the summer series on the 31st.

For the healthy hearted there’s the LA RIVER BIKE-IN MOVIE THEATER (link). With the LA River open for free-form recreation for the first time this summer, the LA River Revitalization Corporation has put together a few riverside screenings at the LA River's most scenic park, including a FREE screening of Wes Anderson’s, Rushmore. There will be food trucks, popcorn and lemonade available, so come early to reserve your patch of grass. Naturally, bike valet service will be offered.

The EAT|SEE|HEAR series moves around so you’ll definitely want to visit their site for week to week details. These guys offer lots of '80s and '90s favorites accompanied by food trucks and local bands (that’s where the eat and hear come in - get it?). The summer-long celebration of food, movies and music comes to Santa Monica on Saturday August 3rd with the cult hit, Donnie Darko, moves on to Beverly Hills with a 25th anniversary screening of Big, and finishes up the season when it lands in downtown Saturday, September 14 with The Breakfast Club.

The Valley Cultural Center hosts several kid-friendly movies throughout the season at Warner Center Park on Topanga Canyon Blvd. These MOVIES ON THE GREEN (site) include the animated films Hotel Transylvania and ParaNorman, as well as the live action fantasy flicks Men in Black 3and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Back along the coast, MOONLIGHT MOVIES ON THE BEACH in Long Beach offers family-friendliness with '80s classics screened on Granada or Mothers Beach. The season is already in full swing and continues through the end of August. The movies are FREE and there is plenty of FREE parking too. Of course there’s all sorts of food and drinks available for purchase on site. Films featured in this series include Goonies, ET, The Wizard of Oz, and Jaws. Check the site for exact dates and times.

Over in Pasadena DIVE-IN MOVIE NIGHT (link) gives you the opportunity to watch a movie from the pool at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. Escape the heat and attend a FREE Dive-In Movie at the same time. Doors open at 7:45PM and the movie starts at 8:15PM (or sunset). The family movies are projected onto a big screen with speakers placed around the recreational pool. You can actually watch while swimming in the shallow end or if you prefer to stay dry you can still see everything from the pool deck. Like many of the other venues food will be available for purchase, but outside food and drinks, and personal flotation devices are not allowed.

And in case you didn’t like the first downtown venue there’s MOVIES IN THE PARK presented by Grand Park and Street Food Cinema. These weekly family-friendly movies run August through September, and include special guests, food trucks, and games. You can get a complete lineup from their website. Highlights include The Sandlot, Back to the Future, and The Never Ending Story, and Jurassic Park. Grilling and cooking are prohibited, but you are encouraged to bring your own picnics.

Wow. With so many options I don’t see how you can’t make it to at least one of the above events. In fact, I think you ought to go to at least one screening at each location, and figure out what works best for you. Then you’ll be all set for next year as you begin an annual summer tradition of seeing movies al fresco. It’s not the ideal condition for watching your favorite movies, but it sure is a lot of fun that can be shared with the whole family. Just make sure you bring a big enough blanket.

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