Take it Outside: Enjoy Dinner and a Movie Under the Stars
Los Angeles is known for its weather and its love of the movies, so it is a natural that Angelenos enjoy watching movies under the stars. Here is a quick guide to some of the best alfresco movie nights in the city.
The granddaddy of outdoor movies, Cinespia (www.cinespia.org), which runs through September 21, boasts a most unique location on the grassy Fairbanks Lawn at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, with films projected on the mausoleum of Rudolph Valentino, amid the final resting places for other movie greats like Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield and Douglas Fairbanks.
Thousands of patrons bring their picnic dinners and cast their blankets on the graveyard grounds for the weekend movie nights, with a DJ warming up the crowd before the movie starts. Chairs up to 21 inches tall and wine and beer are permitted, but no spirits, except for the ones that might be lurking there. Admission is $12 – $15, with higher pricing for special events, such as a screening of Breaking Bad with cast members, priced at $45.
The Hollywood Bowl (www.hollywoodbowl.com) is known for its prestigious outdoor concert series at its famed amphitheater, but sprinkled in the mix are special showings of classic and cult movies.
Not to miss is the Bowl’s annual Grease sing-along, where patrons don Pink Lady wigs, pedal pushers and leather jackets and interact with the movie by blowing bubbles during Beauty School Dropout and waving pom poms during the pep rally.
Audience members can follow along with the subtitled lyrics of the soundtrack, with appropriate censorship, such as an icon of a kitty in place of the “P” word in Greased Lighting. On September 21, the Bowl hosts a sing-along of the classic The Sound of Music. Patrons are encouraged to wear costumes for a pre-show parade for this beloved classic that is sure to bring the Hollywood Hills alive.
Camp Beverly Hills
Though a much more intimate gathering than some of the large-scale outdoor movie nights around town, the City of Beverly Hills presents Sunday Movie Nights (www.beverlyhills.org) along with musical performance as part of its Concerts on Canon outdoor event series. The film selection is family friendly, including classics like Mary Poppins and kids favorites like Back to the Future and Wreck-It Ralph.
Movies are screened on a 20-foot inflatable screen at the hidden gem of a park, the Beverly Cañon Gardens, at 241 N. Cañon Drive, between the Montage Hotel and Bouchon. Showtime is 8pm, but come early and bring your picnic dinner and get a good spot in the open grass area, or if you prefer, seating available on a first-come basis. Park free in the Beverly Canon Gardens parking structure with validation from the Concert Information Table.
Take to the Helms
The Helms Bakery complex, surrounded by artsy galleries and trendy eateries, is the perfect location for the Helms Bakery Sunset Cinema (www.helmsbakerydistrict.com), featuring music-themed movies. The series runs Saturdays in September, showing fun and campy films like Enchanted and Mamma Mia! Go early to shop, grab a bite to eat, and then join your friends and neighbors on the pedestrian plaza in front of Room & Board furniture gallery, at 8758 Venice Boulevard in Culver City. Showtime is 7:17, and admission is free and chairs are provided.
Park and Eat
Street Food Cinema’s (www.streetfoodcinema.com) name says it all. Held May to September, the event features outdoor movies projected on a giant inflatable screen surrounded by food trucks. The evening begins with a live mini concert featuring local musical talent, followed by popular flicks and cult classics like Pitch Perfect, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Swingers.
There’s not much walking room amidst the wall-to-wall people and patchwork of blankets, so the key is to arrive when doors open at 6 pm and stake your piece of grass. Even in the reserved grassy area up front space is tight. Most events are held at Exposition Park with special nights at LA Historic Park and other locations. The food trucks are some of the best in LA, including Kogi BBQ, Cousins Maine Lobster, Belly Bombz, Dogtown Dog, Reuben Truck, and The Melt Bus. The lines for the food trucks get long, and service can be slow, so plan accordingly. Low chairs are permitted in the front grounds, and an area in the back is marked for higher chairs. General admission is $10, reserved seating is $15, and children are $5 and children under 5 are free.
Pack a picnic for movie night that will impress your date but not break the bank. Safeway’s chef, Jeff Anderson, offers creative and affordable appetizer ideas that you can pick up at your local market. Anderson suggests elegant and tasty cracker snacks layered with Primo Taglio roast beef drizzled with horseradish, topped with white cheddar cheese cut in triangles and served on Open Nature Rosemary Crisp crackers. For dessert, create sweet bites with halved Driscoll strawberries, drizzled with Safeway Select Balsamic Reserve Vinegar, sprinkled with Maldon Sea Salt and topped with thin-sliced Primo Taglio Parmeggiano Reggiano. All ingredients, along with quick pre-made salads and entrees that are suited for serving cold or room temperature can be found at the deli departments at Vons and Pavilions.
Take along CalNaturale (www.calnaturale.com) wine, made from organic grapes and packaged in eco-friendly Tetra Paks. The resealable, portable cardboard carafe carries easily and will pass through the backpack search at the entrance at venues where no glass is allowed.