While drive-in movie theatres have gone the way of the dodo in California, a new way of enjoying movies al fresco is taking their place in Los Angeles: temporary outdoor screenings.
From city parks to downtown rooftops to cemeteries,
Angelenos are unpacking their picnic baskets, setting up lawn chairs and
breaking open the wine while enjoying their favourite films under the stars.
Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a favourite
summer pastime in the California city, and actually kicked off the outdoor
screening craze back in 2002. Every weekend from May through August, more than 3,500
movie-goers walk past the graves of celebrities like 1960s screen siren Jayne
Mansfield and rockstar Johnny Ramone to the screening area on the Fairbanks
Lawn near the crypts of silver screen stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Sr. The
films, which are voted on and chosen by Cinespia fans, are digitally projected
onto the wall of a mausoleum and DJs play music before and after the movie.
Attendees are invited to bring their own picnic and wine.
Barnsdall Art Park
Outdoor Movies takes
place on a grassy hill adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House at
Barnsdall Art Park, five miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The movie
series commences in autumn rather than summer (every Saturday in September and
October) but still draws a crowd with its showings of popular LA-focussed
movies like LA Confidential and
LA Story, as well as beer and
wine tastings and food truck offerings. Attendees are invited to bring their
own picnics, but no outside alcohol is allowed.
Street Food Cinema screens a variety of films -- from the 1985 John
Hughes classic Weird Science to
the 2008 blockbuster Iron Man --
in Exposition Park by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from May through
September. This summer series includes live music by up-and-coming LA musicians
as well as a constantly rotating line-up of popular food trucks like Ludo Truck, which features Chef Ludo
Lefebvre’s famous gourmet fried chicken, and Vietnamese food truck the Nom
Nom Truck (guests are also welcome to bring their own picnic). It’s
the only outdoor theatre of this group that is dog-friendly.
Outdoors by the Academy
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the people behind the Oscars) just started
its own screening series at the Academy’s new outdoor theatre, which as a state-of-the-art
screen and sound system on the Academy Hollywood campus. Unlike most of the
other outdoor cinemas mentioned here, this one is family-friendly with G- and
PG-13-rated movies. Feel free to bring your own picnic, beer and wine, or
choose from the variety of food trucks on rotation
Night Drive-In is
a twist on the classic drive-through experience. Located on the roof of a
downtown parking lot it screens crowd favourites suggested on its Facebook page, like
Pulp Fiction and Sixteen Candles, and is the only one
where attendees can drive up in their cars. An FM transmitter delivers sound
through the car’s speakers and car hops will bring over snacks like hot dogs,
popcorn and sodas -- just flash your lights to get their attention. Attendees
can also bring their own food and alcohol. An Astroturf lawn and speakers are available
for those who would rather walk in. Film screenings are monthly year-round and every
other week during summer.
LA Movies in the Park brings its inflatable 52ft-wide screen (the
largest in the western United States) with full digital, high-definition
projection and audio to a variety of outdoor venues all around the city every
Saturday night starting in May and running through mid-September. It’s not
just a screening, it’s a party with live music by local bands and food trucks
galore. Film-goers can sometimes bring their own picnic, but should check each
event page first as it depends on the rules of the host venue.
is the Los Angeles Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes Carolineoncrack.com.