Your Guide to the Best of NYC’s Free Outdoor Summer Movies

nyc-free-summer-movies-2015-brooklyn-bridge-parkLike everything else in this town that involves large crowds and corporate-sponsored fun in public spaces, the free summer movie festival season has exploded these past few years, with established series drawing more people than ever and new ones gaining an instant following. And although most of these series seem to me to show the same couple dozen movies every year (Jurassic Park, Top Gun, Jaws, Back to the Future, Die Hard, Ghostbusters… yup they're all playing again somewhere in the city this summer), there are also enough newish titles on the collective slates (Frozen! Big Hero 6! American Hustle! uh…. Snarknado 2?!) to keep things interesting. Anyway, most of these have the same basic logistics–get there early, bring food, don't expect absolute quiet, enjoy the communal aspect of the thing–but here's a quick look at most of what's going on this season…


From The Brooklyn Bridge To Bryant Park

The grandaddy of them all, the Bryant Park Film Festival–which is kind of a NYC bucket-list thing at this point–screens every Monday night from June 22 to August 24. As of this writing the films themselves haven't been announced, but you should expect the usual mix of crowd-pleasers, both classic and contemporary. Relative newcomer Hudson River Flicks has a variety of different series, for kids and grown ups, including its Big Hit Wednesdays from July 8 to August 19 at Pier 63 in Chelsea, which includes such box-office hits from 2014 as Interstellar, Selma, Imitation Game and Hunger Games Mockingjay. And Brooklyn Bridge Park's excellent movie-watching setting at Pier 1 is back with a full schedule as well, with shows every Thursday from July 9 to August 27, including Attack the Block and Dazed and Confused. This is the most comfortable (and the prettiest… they don't call it Movies With a View for nothing!) of all the "no-chairs-allowed" festivals, in my opinion.  


Summer Movie Series: Rooftops & Flight Decks

And there are so many more! The Intrepid Summer Movie Series returns with screenings every Thursday from July 9 to August 6, the roster as-usual loaded with astronaut and fighter-pilot films (October Sky, Apollo 13, Moon) and this year there will be a special guest introducing each movie. Over in Williamsburg, the 10th annual Summer Screen series in McCarren Park runs on Wednesdays this year, from July 8 (with Clueless) to August 12 (audience pick!). Here you are not only allowed to bring a chair, you kind of need to, as all the seating is on an expanse of concrete. Also different than most series, there's live music and multiple food trucks in attendance for your pre-viewing pleasure. Finally, for the more cinematically adventurous among you, the great Rooftop Films just announced their 2015 lineup and, as expected, I've never heard of just about everything they're showing… which will be a good break from all of the Hollywood blockbusters I plan on seeing at the multiplexes. Locations vary with Rooftop Films, and the schedule can be a bit daunting, but I suggest just picking something and checking it out. Half the fun here is the rooftop party atmosphere.

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