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, 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. They havce also begun to do (stand-up) comedy nights.
A Flick and a Feast
Where: Juicy Lucy BBQ, 809 Father Capodanno Blvd., Midland Beach, Staten Island
When: Check their Facebook page and website for updates. [Note: As of April 14, still no word on movies for the 2021 season.]
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 (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 like Thelma & Louise followed by Desperately Seeking Susan (April 24), as well as stand-alone gems like Groundhog Day (May 2). 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 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)
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: Some nights set up fascinating dichotomies with their choices. Will you opt for the screen showing Goodfellas or the one that has Moulin Rouge (April 27)? Little Women or The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (April 28)?
Other Outdoor Theater Experiences
Movie Nights at Habana Outpost
Where: 757 Fulton St., Fort Greene, Brooklyn
When: Sundays, planned to begin in April [Note: As of April 14, still no word on opening and movies for the 2021 season]
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: The new Disney animated flick Raya and the Last Dragon has been getting raves. Using Awkwafina and Benedict Wong as voice actors will help any project. (April 28)
Pasta Louise Dinner + Movie
Where: 803 8th Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn
What to expect: This charming Italian restaurant runs a movie night every Wednesday, weather permitting. A reserved ticket gets you a covered outdoor seat, popcorn and a two-course meal from a limited menu. Movie choices aren’t generally advertised more than a week in advance, but have included crowd-pleasing fare like Back to the Future and The Wedding Singer. The seating is fairly limited so the event tends to sell out quickly.
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: Little Shop of Horrors has a flashy, malevolent turn by Steve Martin, but Ellen Greene and a certain plant (voiced by the great Levi Stubbs) make the show. (April 27)
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: Parasite was nearly everyone's—including Oscar’s—movie of the year for 2019. (April 24)