Outdoor movies have long been a New York City tradition, and during the pandemic even more open-air “theaters” have popped up across the five boroughs. Drive-ins, rooftops, diner parking lots and beaches continue to provide safe, physically distanced moviegoing experiences while allowing businesses to serve customers during challenging times. We’ve rounded up some of the best outdoor screens throughout the City—they’re open, weather permitting. Grab a bucket of popcorn and see what’s coming to the big (outdoor) screen this spring, summer and beyond.
Bel Aire Diner
Where: 31-91 21st St., Astoria, Queens
When: Thursdays & Fridays, March–ongoing
What to expect: The parking lot of this classic Queens diner converted to a drive-in theater in 2020 and is still going strong. Thursdays are for old-time favorites and Fridays veer toward family fare. Tickets are $10 and meant to cover one car (and two people); the schedule is posted weekly.
NYCgo pick: Night of the Living Dead is where modern-day film horror began. (March 25)
A Flick and a Feast
Where: Juicy Lucy BBQ, 809 Father Capodanno Blvd., Midland Beach, Staten Island
When: Expected to begin April 14. Check their Facebook page and website for updates.
What to expect: Head to Staten Island’s eastern shore for dinner and a movie all in one. Barbecue restaurant Juicy Lucy BBQ hosts this screening series in its adjacent parking lot, so moviegoers can order dishes like Texas-style brisket and pork candy bites during screenings. Movie selections tend to include family-friendly picks and modern classics. Check back for 2021 dates and showtimes.
Where: New York Hall of Science, Flushing, Queens
When: Fridays–Sundays for the moment, ongoing
What to expect: Rooftop Films’ drive-in location, on the grounds of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, screens a mix of popular flicks and cult classics. They host fun double features like Fast Times at Ridgemont High followed by Dazed and Confused (March 27), as well as stand-alone gems like Japanese anime film Your Name (April 11). Tickets are $35–$45 per car (up to five passengers). Movies are presented in partnership with the Museum of the Moving Image and NYSCI.
NYCgo Pick: See Ice Cube as an actor in Friday and a screen character (depicted by his son O’Shea Jackson Jr.) in Straight Outta Compton. (April 23)
Radial Park at Halletts Point Play
Where: 27-50 1st St., Astoria, Queens
What to expect: Screenings at Radial Park debuted in 2020 as Broadway at the Drive-In, featuring movies with live soundtrack accompaniment. The reach is expanding to include drive-in theatrical audio plays, collaborations with film studios and a music festival series. Performance times and ticket prices will range.
NYCgo Pick: Don’t miss your chance to see the Good Ole Blues Brothers Boys Band from Chicago, aka The Blues Brothers. (May 27)
Skyline Drive-In NYC
Where: 1 Oak St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn
When: Daily, March–ongoing
What to expect: This Brooklyn drive-in screens multiple movies almost nightly, covering genres such as Bond flicks, 1980s cheese, cult horror and superhero smashes. Tickets are $55 per car or $35 per motorcycle and include access to an on-site concession stand and a view of Manhattan from the East River waterfront. There’s also outdoor seating; book a ticket ($22), show up on foot or bike and take your physically distanced spot in a designated area.
NYCgo Pick: Imagining what Brandon Lee’s career might have been is the main, but not the only, reason The Crow remains haunting. (March 25)
Other Outdoor Theater Experiences
Movie Nights at Habana Outpost
Where: 757 Fulton St., Fort Greene, Brooklyn
When: Sundays, planned to begin in April
What to expect: Based on previous years’ schedules, there will be lots of modern classics from the 1980s on. Expect physical distancing at the picnic tables in Habana Outpost’s festive backyard, with the movie projected onto a large wall nearby. Check back for 2021 dates and showtimes.
Outdoor Cinema at Parklife
Where: 636 Degraw St., Gowanus, Brooklyn
When: Sundays & Wednesdays, ongoing
What to expect: A bar with a large outdoor space that doubles as a taqueria, Parklife triples as a movie theater. A few times a week, they screen cult classics or focus on nominal themes, such as female-centric flicks during Women’s History Month. Email to make your reservation request and show up masked. It’s free, though a purchase of food and drink is required.
NYCgo Pick: Long before the current Netflix series of the same name, Selena canonized the late Tejano singer—and sent Jennifer Lopez’s acting career into orbit. (March 31)
Pix on the Plaza
Where: The Forest at the Standard High Line, 848 Washington St., Meatpacking District, Manhattan
When: Sundays–Thursdays through April
What to expect: Over the winter, the Standard Hotel began screening outdoor movies on its plaza (heated), dedicating different nights to different types of films. The lineup is announced two weeks in advance of shows; April’s picks will be dedicated to a celebration of the Academy Awards. Reservations are required (outdoor seats go quickly).
NYCGo Pick: Sure, people will claim that Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison is the ultimate Adam Sandler comedy, but his mix of farce, pathos and man-child playing hits its sweetest notes in The Wedding Singer. Drew Barrymore greatly helps the cause. (March 31)
Where: 40 Bogart St., Bushwick, Brooklyn
When: Daily, ongoing
What to expect: Syndicated was one of the early dinner-and-a-movie theaters in the City, and during the pandemic they began screening movies outside on their Thames Street side exterior wall. Arrive early (tables tend to fill up an hour before showtime) for table service and a curated film. They screen everything from blockbuster hits to Disney channel originals to David Lynch. Follow their Instagram where they post monthly calendars.
NYCGo Pick: First Cow made it to a number of year-end top-10 lists for its moving story of an unlikely partnership. (March 29)