Though new blockbusters may grab all the headlines, summer movies reach new heights in the great outdoors. Why not enjoy the night sky, some fine food and tunes before relaxing with friends at the many outdoor cinema locations that have burst onto the L.A. landscape in the last few years? From nostalgic drive-ins to parties under the stars with local food trucks to a premium, Oscar-curated series, classic films and cult favorites get a replay in a whole new way.
Launched last year, this weekend screening series at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's open-air theater on its Hollywood campus has been a sold-out success. The series offers nostalgic jaunts into decades of movie history, including Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last!," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "American Graffiti," "L.A. Story," "Big" and "Rushmore." Movie memorabilia and special guests will also be on hand. Another highlight should be the July 28 screening of the early '80s hip-hop documentary "Style Wars," which is being restored by the academy archive and will feature KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez as well as street artists.
Cinespia Hollywood Forever
Over the last 11 years, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery screenings have become a quintessential L.A. summer experience, as ghosts of Hollywood past provide a unique backdrop to outdoor screenings. The series has become so popular that lines form hours in advance, but the wait is worth it for the festive atmosphere. Popular upcoming events include a special Fourth of July celebration pairing fireworks with Keanu Reeves in "Point Break" and an all-night movie marathon in August.
A wide selection of food trucks and cutting-edge local bands curated by Origami Vinyl are a feature of this screening series, which tours through a variety of locations including Pasadena, Santa Monica, downtown and Brentwood every Saturday through Sept. 14. "Angelenos hate to have to travel too far, so this way we bring the experience to them," says co-producer Sharon Sperber. And for those who prefer to not even leave their cars, selected films such as "Almost Famous" in July and "The Warriors" in August are screened at a drive-in location downtown. Additionally, a July 13 screening of Will Ferrell's "Elf" promises a Christmas in July theme, complete with holiday decorations and a tropical Santa Claus. Animal lovers will be pleased to hear that canine companions will receive free treats, and part of the proceeds goes to Best Friends Animal Society.
Street Food Cinema
An outdoor movie, live music and food event, this series continues every Saturday night through summer at Exposition Park and other locations. "We wanted to create something that really embraces L.A. and bring the community together. Make it feel like a small town, even though we are in a big urban area," says Heather Hope Allison, one of the producers of the event. Popular food trucks are rotated weekly along with a roster of up-and-coming L.A. bands curated by the Viper Room. Movie programming includes a BFF double feature of "Reality Bites" and "St. Elmo's Fire" as well as a pairing of Edgar Wright's "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead." Cult favorite "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" comes to the great outdoors June 22 featuring a live cast performance by Sins O'the Flesh and cast member Barry Bostwick.
Dinner and a Movie at Alcove
For a more intimate setting, this series in Los Feliz pairs classic and cult favorites with themed food and cocktail combinations at a full-service dinner. Every third Monday of the month until September a 17-foot screen is set up in the picturesque garden patio between the historic cottages that house the cafe and bar. Admission is free for dinner patrons, but there are no reservations so get there early for a prime spot. Upcoming films are Mel Brooks' campy "Spaceballs," Hitchcock's elegant "To Catch a Thief" and '90s teen favorite "Clueless."
Electric Dusk Drive-In
Keeping the drive-in tradition alive, this series in its new downtown location offers Saturday night screenings, usually twice a month. Car hops make sure you don't need to leave your car to grab food from the snack shack. No car? No problem, grab a patch of AstroTurf under the screen. Upcoming screenings include "Office Space," "The Princess Bride" and "E.T."
Friday Night Flicks — Pershing Square
These family-friendly Friday night screenings run through September with themed movie nights such as July's buddy flicks with "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Thelma & Louise," animated selections in August with "Wall-E" and "Yellow Submarine," and a back-to-school September with "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Election." Movies are shown on a 40-by-20 foot inflatable screen and attendees are welcome to bring their own picnics, blankets and lawn chairs. Alcohol is not allowed but well-behaved dogs are.