Everything is moving inside again, but this is L.A.: There’s always something to do outside. While seeing a movie on a big screen at one of our iconic theaters is amazing, there are more opportunities than ever to see a flick outdoors. Whether it’s on a blanket in a cemetery, poolside just at a Downtown hotel, or in your car at a pop-up drive-in, there are so many choices from the beach to L.A. Live.
Here are the best outdoor movie experiences to find around town right now. Most have movies going into August (and maybe even beyond — check the schedules).
The JW Marriott at L.A. Live is only a few blocks away from 1133 Hope, which means easy access and no parking hassles. Sunday night screenings take place on the roof pool deck at the hotel, and tickets ($45 per person) include a two-course meal plus popcorn. There’s even a full bar! The August lineup includes Mean Girls, Iron Man, Maleficent and Legally Blonde.
The OG of outdoor movies in L.A. is back this summer with Saturday night screenings at Hollywood Forever, plus some drive-in options at the Greek. Check out everything from The Wizard of Oz to The Big Lebowski, Scream, and Labyrinth. And yes, costumes are welcome!
Another poolside option, this one at a swanky Santa Monica hotel. The Fairmont, itself just steps from the beach, offers a date-night or just goofy fun outing, with sunset family-friendly films. Think: Happy Feet, Toy Story, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Tickets are free with a $25 food and drink minimum; full service from FIG restaurant is available.
If you ever wanted to watch a movie in a location that matches the theme of the movie, this is one of the coolest ways to do it. San Fernando Valley Summer Drive-In Nights provides match-ups like Robocop at the Van Nuys police station; Cars at Sun Valley’s Pink Motel, and Star Trek at Anheuser-Busch in Van Nuys. Enjoy the flick in special comfortable seating, with state-of-the-art projection and sound. Concessions are available on site, as well as pre-movie entertainment.
Personal headphones, comfy chairs, great views of the city, iconic movies, and awesome food and drink. What more do you need? The Rooftop Cinema Club has been offering some of the best outdoor movie experiences 10 years ago, and it’s still going strong. This summer, screenings are at LEVEL on Olive Street. Get there early for cocktails, games, and more. Flicks include 500 Days of Summer, Clueless, The Princess Bride, and for quintessential 80s L.A. viewing, Valley Girl.
On the other side of the city, Rooftop Cinema Club has screenings and drive-in experiences at the Santa Monica Airport with rollerskating servers bringing concessions to your car. Some movies on tap this month include Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…, Dirty Dancing, and La La Land.
The rooftop attached above the West Hollywood theater becomes an outdoor movie house complete with chairs, headphones, and stunning views of the Hollywood Hills. Movies showing throughout July and August include Pretty in Pink, Psycho, Fight Club and many more. Since it’s attached to the restaurant and rooftop lounge E.P. & L.P., add a pre-show, set-price dinner at E.P. for $49 per person, and go hang out at the L.P. for cocktails after.
Load up the car for the ultimate tailgate movie-going experience. With locations in Culver City (the closest) and Santa Clarita, you can see Grease, The Lion King, or Ghostbusters, among others.
The historic American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood will host a 30-car drive-in for screenings this summer, a perfect spot for classics like Boogie Nights, The Dark Knight, and Purple Rain.
This was one of the first pop-up drive-ins, even before the pandemic hit. This year movies take place on top of the old Sears parking garage in Glendale at at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station.
Drive-in screenings take place at multiple venues around the region, from Griffith Park to a Malibu ranch, offering both drive-in and picnic-style outdoor seating in distanced “pods.” Check listings for details.
Featured photo courtesy JW Marriott at L.A. Live