Why We Love L.A. Summers: Outdoor Movie Screenings

By Antonio Sierra

Summer has arrived, and we're ready to celebrate all that screams 'tis the season in Los Angeles. From sand to summit, from sips to snacks — we love L.A. summers.

As the days grow longer and the nights become warmer, there's no better time to traverse the city than an L.A. summer evening. While Hollywood is offering plenty of blockbusters to fill your summer hours, Los Angeles and the surrounding area are holding dozens of outdoor movie screenings from now until September. Most movie screening ticket prices are cheaper than your average megaplex, food options vary beyond popcorn and Milk Duds, and many provide amenities that would make your local AMC frown. Below are nine of L.A.'s best summer movie screening series, with films ranging from the silent era to modern favorites.

EAT|SEE|HEAR

Eat|See|Hear is a quintessential summer movie screening series because it offers everything you would expect from watching a movie outside. Want to eat dinner during the movie? There are a variety of nearby food trucks that Eat|See|Hear promises will "please the most discerning of palates." Want to bring along your trusted pooch? Eat|See|Hear not only allows dogs, but will hand you a complimentary biscuit at the door. Want to see the individual bristles of Burt Reynolds' mustache during the Saturday, June 29, showing of Boogie Nights? Eat|See|Hear boasts a three-story, 52-foot-wide inflatable screen—which the series claims is the biggest west of the Mississippi.

Eat|See|Hearruns through September 14. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Children under 12 are $8. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with live music starting at 7 p.m. and the movie beginning at 8:30 p.m. The series employs a rotating set of venues including L.A. Trade Tech College, L.A. State Historic Park, and Santa Monica High School. Check out the schedule here.

SILVER LAKE PICTURE SHOW

Silver Lake is renowned for its hipster culture, and the Silver Lake Picture Show does nothing to tarnish it. While the event series' theme is "Classics of the 80's and 90's" (including Wet Hot American Summer, The Sandlot, and The Princess Bride), each movie is preceded by a short film by a local filmmaker. Eschewing food trucks, the Silver Lake Picture Show promotes dining at local restaurants instead. Regardless of your tolerance of knit caps, organic produce, or any other aspects of hipsterdom, the free admission and the diverse film lineup should remain an option for the non-ironic.

Movies screen every other Thursday from June to August at the Sunset Triangle Plaza in Silver Lake. Movies begin at 8 p.m. Admission is free. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own food; no food will be served on premises. View the schedule here.

OSCARS OUTDOORS

While Oscar season doesn't usually start until the fall, The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts' Oscars Outdoors is making sure your summer movie habits are staying classy throughout the summer season. For audiences tired of movies about superheroes and fighting robots, Oscars Outdoors offers a slew of counterprogramming. The Academy promises a series of movies that will take you around the world, from California to "international locales" like "Paris and India," including some art house fare. Never seen Cinema Paradiso (August 24)? Oscars Outdoors invites you to watch the 1988 Italian classic with a glass of your favorite pinot grigio.

Oscars Outdoors takes place every Friday and Saturday through August 24 at the Academy Hollywood Campus at 1341 Vine Street. General admission tickets cost $5 or $3 for Academy members and students with a valid school ID. Children 10 years or younger are free. Tickets are available online. Attendees are encouraged to dress warmly and bring blankets and lawn chairs for the lawn seating. Picnics, beer, and wine are permitted with food trucks on-site. The schedule can be seen here.

FREE FOR ALL MOVIE MONDAYS

Orange County residents hoping to attend some outdoor screenings of their own won't have to look too far. Segerstrom Center for the Arts' Free for All Movie Mondays in Costa Mesa is fairly self-explanatory, with a free movie screened every Monday during the summer. As an added bonus, a selection of animated shorts from the Newport Film Festival will be shown before each screening.

Free For All Movie Mondays runs every week through August 5 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. Setup begins at 5:30 p.m. with the movie starting at dusk (about 8 p.m.). Guests are welcome to bring their own food or buy snacks and beverages on site from Patina Catering. Click here for the schedule.

CINEMA ON THE STREET

There are plenty of great free movie screenings this summer, and Santa Monica has a short but sweet series of its own. Cinema on the Street runs for three weeks in July in downtown SaMo with family-friendly fare, like Back to the Future, Despicable Me (in 3D!), and The Three Amigos. Pre-screening entertainment includes a performance from MI's Westside Comedy Theater, which Cinema on the Street promises to have you "laughing in your seat."

Cinema on the Street runs every Friday from July 12 through July 26 at the Third Street Promenade between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica. Movies begin around 7:30 p.m. Check out the schedule here.

STREET FOOD CINEMA

Bigger is better. At least, that's the way Street Food Cinema approaches it. The series runs for 18 weeks, meaning that the outdoor screenings extend into late September. Street Food Cinema's lineup is also made for the marquee, featuring many past summer favorites like Jaws and Skyfall. And what better place to see big movies than at Exposition Park, where the backdrop of the cavernous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum makes Staples Center look like a quaint hole-in-the-wall. Pair that with food trucks, live bands, and the occasional special guest (past guests have included Corey Feldman and Rocky Horror Picture Show live troupe Sins O' the Flesh), and the adjective "big" remains the calling card for Street Food Cinema.

Street Food Cinema runs through September 21 at Exposition Park. Select dates are at different locations; check the schedule for details. General admission is $10, reserved seating is $15, children 6-10 are $5, and children under 5 receive free admission. Parking is $10. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with live music and a contest beginning at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively. The movie starts at approximately 8:30 p.m.

CINESPIA

With the popularity of zombies, vampires, and other supernatural creatures on TV and at the box office, demand for on-screen undead has never been higher. Cinespia flips the script by screening film classics among Tinseltown's most distinguished deceased denizens at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. DJ sets before and after the movie as well as beer and wine (but no spirits, pun presumably unintended) also help set the mood for films like Badlands and Roman Holiday.

Cinespia runs through July 6 on the Fairbanks Lawn at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. General admission tickets cost $12, except for June 27's Roger Ebert tribute (general admission $18/VIP $50). Gates open at 7:30 p.m. with the movie starting at 9 p.m. View the schedule here.

MOONLIGHT MOVIES ON THE BEACH

One of the best aspects of living in the Los Angeles area is the proximity to plenty of great beaches. While there are many great screenings throughout the city, Moonlight Movies on the Beach is one of the only screenings that allows you to watch a movie while feeling the sand between your toes. Free admission will make it a lot easier to find out if The Avengers (August 20) is enhanced by the sound of crashing waves.

Moonlight Movies on the Beach runs through August 31 at Granada Beach and Mother's Beach in Long Beach. Admission and parking are free. Movies start at approximately 8 p.m. Popcorn, snacks, and dinners are available for purchase. The schedule is available here.

SILENTS UNDER THE STARS

With two screenings in July and August, blink and you'll miss Silents Under the Stars. You may, however, have a tough time hearing even if you do attend. That's because Silents Under the Stars' screenings of Chicago and Peter Pan are the only showings that would feel right at home in the silent era of Hollywood movies. And while we joked about it earlier, Silents Under the Stars take their sound seriously as well. Each film has a live accompaniment by Michael Mortilla, whose compositions have been performed in the Library of Congress and the Chicago Symphony. Organizers are promising "surprise short subjects" preceding each movie before allowing you to settle before a 16 MM projector and watch a movie from a time when orange groves outnumbered high-end boutiques in Hollywood.

Silents Under the Stars runs through August 18 at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills. Ticekts are $6 for general admission, $3 for children, and $5 for Hollywood Heritage members. Peter Pan and Chicago start at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, although guests are encouraged to arrive early and picnic. Guests should also bring flashlights due to limited lighting in the parking lot. See the full schedule here.