Where to watch movies outside in NYC this summer

Posted On Thu, July 7, 2022 By

Posted On Thu, July 7, 2022 By In Events, Features, NYC Guides

Photo by Julienne Schaer for Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

One of the best summer activities is returning to New York City: outdoor movies. While New Yorkers have long enjoyed the seasonal events, the pandemic has made outdoor cinemas (and drive-ins!) even more popular. 6sqft has put together a preliminary list of places to watch outdoor movies across the city, from a rooftop in Midtown Manhattan to the urban oasis that is the Queens Botanical Garden. As more movie lineups get released this summer, the list will be updated accordingly.

Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

Prospect Park’s Movie Under the Stars
Free outdoor movies are back on at the Long Meadow in Prospect Park this summer. Presented by Showtime and hosted by the Prospect Park Alliance, Brooklyn Magazine, and the office of the Brooklyn Borough President, the park’s Movie Under the Stars series will take place on Wednesdays in August. Upcoming screenings include Back to the Future, Ghostbusters (1984), Encanto, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Films begin shortly after sunrise at the north end of the Long Meadow, closest to the Grand Army Plaza entrance. RSVP for the free screenings here.

This year, the series will extend to Fort Greene Park on Thursdays in July, as part of a partnership with the Fort Greene Park Conservancy. The lineup includes West Side Story (2021), Selena, Crooklyn, and Clue. Register here.

Rooftop Films Summer Series
Since 1997, Rooftop Films has highlighted the work of first-time filmmakers with screenings at unique outdoor locations. The summer series kicked off in May and will run through the end of August, offering screenings at unique locations across the city including in Green-Wood Cemetery, Fort Greene Park, the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island, Marcus Garvey Park in the Bronx, and many others. Some events are free, while others are ticketed. See the full lineup and get more details here.

Photo courtesy of Rooftop Cinema Club Midtown

Rooftop Cinema Club Midtown
For the first time in two years, Rooftop Cinema Club Midtown is back, offering outdoor movies in the heart of Manhattan. Located on the terrace of the Embassy Suites on West 37th Street, the cinema club includes a full bar and food menu from the hotel, wireless headphones for seamless movie watching, and comfortable seating. Multiple movies are shown every day, including kid-friendly movies shown before 4:30 p.m. Upcoming screening series include “Harry Potter’s Birthday Celebration” (with Harry Potter movies shown every Sunday in July and Saturday in August), “Leo Season” (movies starring famous Leos), “Summerween” (spooky movies to enjoy before October). Doors open an hour before the show starts. Tickets start at $21.50. Learn more here.

In Bushwick, the bar/restaurant/movie theater Syndicated hosts free nightly screenings outside. Dubbed “Sidewalk Cinema,” the event includes movies projected on the Thames Street Side of the building. No tickets are required, but seating is a first-come, first-served at the tables the restaurant uses for outdoor dining. The seating is also covered, making the screenings rain or shine. See the full line-up of screenings for June here.

Seaport Cinema at the Rooftop at Pier 17
eaport Cinema is back on the Rooftop at Pier 17 this year, offering free outdoor flicks and unbeatable city views. Reservations for each movie open two weeks beforehand. Seating is limited, so arrive early to secure a spot. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the movies start at 7 p.m.

Queens Botanical Garden
This summer, the Queens Botanical Garden is transforming into a family-friendly outdoor cinema. In addition to the screenings, “Movie Nights at the Garden” includes seasonal, movie-themed food and drinks, after-hours access to garden grounds, and arts and craft activities. For non-members, tickets cost $17 per adult, $15 per student, $55 for a family of four, with discounted prices available to garden members. Each ticket comes with admission to the garden and a $5 food voucher. The series runs through August 19. See the full lineup here.

Photo by Rommel Tan

Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies With A View series is returning to the waterfront for its 22nd season this summer, hosted by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Along with a waterside screening, enjoy food and drinks (including beer and wine for the 21+ crowd) from Smorgasburg along the Pier 1 promenade. Doors open and music kicks off at 6 p.m. with the film starting around 8:30 p.m. Movies With A View kicks off on July 7 and takes place every Thursday through August 25.

In Long Island City, movies will be screened along the waterfront in Hunter’s Point South Park. Four family-friendly movies will be shown, starting July 14 with Black Panther, followed by James Bond Skyfall (2012), Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), and Encanto. Films start at sunset in the oval.

Bryant Park
Now in its 29th year, Movie Nights in Bryant Park is back. Free movies will be shown on the lawn for 10 Mondays this summer through August 15. The lawn opens at 5 p.m for picnicking, and the film begins at 8 p.m. Food and beverages curated by Hester Street Fair will be available for purchase on the Fountain Terrace. Screenings range from Wayne’s World 2 and Hairspray to The Godfather: Part II. The full lineup can be found here.

Movie Under the Stars at NYC Parks
Another great free outdoor movie option is hosted by NYC Parks and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Throughout the summer months, catch classic flicks in parks and playgrounds in every borough. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and enjoy the movie! Films begin at dusk. See what’s playing in your neighborhood here.


Editor’s note: The original version of this story was published on June 3, 2021, and has since been updated.

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