It’s that time of the year again — when heading into a pitch-dark movie theater loses all of its appeal compared with the breezy charm of a screening under the stars. So grab a picnic blanket, invite some friends along, and check out our guide to the best outdoor film screenings in New York this summer.
SummerScreen in Williamsburg
Featuring cult classics such as The Big Lebowski and Zoolander, SummerScreen in Williamsburg caters to a generation that grew up quoting the Dude. Six films will be screened this July and August on Wednesdays; the final one will be selected by popular vote from the audience — nominees include millennial favorites such as Spice World, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, and Mean Girls.
Summer on the Hudson: Pier I Picture Show
The annual festival by the Hudson River includes concerts, yoga classes, and dancing, but we especially love the open-air screenings on Pier I. This year’s selections are favorites from the Riverside Park’s staff and by the look of the lineup (The Outsiders, The Princess Bride, Clueless), it’s nostalgically channeling the eighties and nineties.
Hudson River Park’s River Flicks
The Hudson River is a popular spot for a big outdoor screening — just a little farther downtown there’s the River Flicks festival that will showcase last year’s biggest hits, including the silly but satisfying This is the End, as well as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and American Hustle,which both feature America’s BFF, Jennifer Lawrence.
Rooftop Films Summer Series
If blockbusters aren’t your thing, Rooftop Films Summer Series has a selection of independent, short, and foreign film screenings all over the city — with most of them featuring Q&As with the directors right after. The lineup includes Obvious Child, the romantic comedy about a fateful one-night stand, with Jenny Slate, and there seems to be something for everyone including a documentary on mushroom foraging (The Last Season) and an Iranian vampire Western (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night).
HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival and Central Park Film Festival
Two of the most popular outdoor fests in New York have yet to announce their lineups, but the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival will kick off on Monday, June 16, while Central Park’s usually begins, and lasts for one week, in late August. We suggest heading there early, as choice spots on the lawn tend to fill up fast.