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 (though on weekends sometimes instead), 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. One night is for old-time favorites and the other veers toward family fare. Tickets are $10 and meant to cover one car (and two people); the schedule is posted weekly. They have also begun to do (stand-up) comedy nights and concerts.
A Flick and a Feast
Where: Juicy Lucy BBQ, 809 Father Capodanno Blvd., Midland Beach, Staten Island
When: Usually Thursdays–Sundays
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. Tickets are $45 per car.
NYCgo Pick: We are sure you’ll have the time of your life at the Dirty Dancing screening over Memorial Day weekend. (May 30)
Where: New York Hall of Science, Flushing, Queens
When: Fridays–Sundays (and frequently some other weekdays as well), ongoing
What to expect: Rooftop Films’ drive-in location—on the grounds of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, with the Hall of Science’s Rocket Park in the background—screens a mix of popular flicks and cult classics. They host fun double features, stand-alone gems and the occasional night focused on short films. 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: You’ll have the chance to see some Queens locations on the big screen with Eddie Murphy 1988 hit, Coming to America. (June 16)
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 plus Fridays & Saturdays, May 28–June 26)
Skyline Drive-In NYC
Where: 1 Oak St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn
When: Daily, 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:Zoolander is a bit ridiculous, but let’s face it: it’s also ridiculously good-looking. (May 29)
Other Outdoor Theater Experiences
Movie Nights at the Garden
Where: Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., Flushing, Queens
When: Select Fridays and Saturdays in June, July and August
What to expect: Feast on movie-themed snacks and seasonal refreshments at golden hour while watching crowd-pleasing cinema favorites. Tickets are $12–15 for garden nonmembers.
NYCgo Pick: During the screening of the kaleidoscopic animated classic Alice in Wonderland (July 9), you can make your own tea blends with herbs, flowers and plants; grab a slice of cake at the Queen’s Dining Hall; and pick up a themed souvenir.
Movies on the Waterfront
Where: Astoria Park, Shore Boulevard between the Hell Gate Bridge and the pool, Astoria, Queens
When: Fridays through June 4
What to expect: In addition to the Radial Park drive-in theater, the Astoria Park waterfront will host outdoor movies on consecutive Fridays this month into early June.
NYCgo Pick: Don't miss A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood—your chance to relive the days when Mr. Rogers offered a gentle TV presence. (June 4)
Outdoor Cinema at Parklife
Where: 636 Degraw St., Gowanus, Brooklyn
When: Programming is on hold at moment as they fix up the outdoor space but is expected to resume early this summer; shows are usually on Wednesdays and Sundays
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.
Pix on the Plaza
Where: The Forest at the Standard High Line, 848 Washington St., Meatpacking District, Manhattan
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: A world-class skier. High-stakes poker games. Mobsters and Hollywood intrigue. Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain. What's not to like about Molly's Game? (May 27)
Where: Pier 17,89 South St., Seaport District, Manhattan
When: Mondays, May 31–August 9
What to expect: Enjoy dinner and a movie at The Greens on the rooftop of Pier 17 in the Seaport District. Reservations can be made a week in advance of the show; guests reserve their own “lawn” which accommodates up to eight people, for $20. This summer they'll be showing movies as voted on by the public, with classics like Dirty Dancing on June 14 and kid-friendly flicks like Toy Story on July 19. Movies begin at 8:30 pm.
NYCgo Pick: See the acclaimed and understated coming-of-age film Moonlight, adapted for the screen by Barry Jenkins and set in Miami. (June 28)
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: The screening of Y Tu Mamá También continues a theme of Sidewalk showing some of the best international movies of the past few decades. (May 27)