When COVID-19 hit in 2020, outdoor movies had a bit of a renaissance. Drive-ins and outdoor movie series became means for social-distancing-together entertainment, and these open-air oases helped keep the film industry afloat and audiences happy.
Now that indoor movie theaters have reopened, outdoor movies have returned to their status as a retro novelty rather than a pandemic lifeline — but that doesn’t mean that audiences still can’t enjoy a night of cinema under the stars.
We’ve put together a guide to places you can see movies al fresco this summer, from a Coolidge Corner Theatre series on the Greenway to the Wellfleet Drive-In to the garage-turned-theater Wenham Street Cinema. Just be sure to check the venues’ websites for movie times, pricing, and other information before you go.
CAMBRIDGE CROSSING In partnership with the Brattle Theatre, the new Cambridge Crossing development has announced two free movie nights this summer, both double features. On June 30, you can sing along to “Moana” and “School of Rock,” and on July 28, catch “Encanto” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Admission begins at 5 p.m. both nights, and there will be free popcorn as well as food trucks for movie-time munchies — just be sure to bring your own chair. 222 Jacobs St., Cambridge. Free. eventbrite.com/o/cambridge-crossing-30339024896
THE LORING GREENOUGH HOUSE This historic Jamaica Plain estate will host several Friday evening movie nights on its lawn through early October. The first film, on May 27 at 8 p.m., is “The Princess Bride,” with “King Richard,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “In the Heights” also on the summer lineup. 12 South St., Jamaica Plain. $7 per person over 12, $3 per child ages 3-12, and free for children under 3. eventbrite.com/o/the-loring-greenough-house-10886842148
MAYOR’S MOVIE NIGHTS Mayor Michelle Wu is staging 11 kid-friendly film showings in playgrounds and parks around the city this August. The free series kicks off on Aug. 2. near Jamaica Pond with “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” and concludes on Sept. 1 at the Boston Common Frog Pond with the classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” — chocolate not included. Multiple locations. Free. boston.gov/departments/parks-and-recreation/parks-movie-nights
MENDON TWIN DRIVE-IN About an hour southwest of Boston is the Mendon Twin Drive-In, which has screened summer flicks since 1954. Here, you can catch a double feature while enjoying fried dough or mozzarella sticks from the snack bar. Next week, “Top Gun: Maverick” is one of the films on tap, and on June 4, the drive-in will host Grateful Dead night, with live music and a recording of a 1990s concert by the trippy band taking over the big screen. 35 Milford St., Mendon. $32 per car, or $6 per person if there are more than 6 people. mendondrivein.com
MERRIMACK VALLEY PAVILION Head to the Merrimack Valley Pavilion on Friday and Saturday nights all summer long for some family-friendly fun — movies this month include “Sing 2,” “Moana,” and “Boss Baby 2,” all starting at 7 p.m. These drive-in movies will likely provide some autumn entertainment as well; films tend to run through the first snowfall of the season, and last year, the outdoor screenings lasted into late October. 2087 Main St., Tewksbury. $20 per car, or $120 for a season ticket. eventbrite.com/o/merrimack-valley-pavilion-30916896881
MOONRISE CINEMAS This spot, which opened in Plymouth just last year, combines the upscale theater experiences of today with the nostalgic flair of the drive-ins of yesteryear. Before you settle in for your movie — “Monsters Inc.” and “Luca” are both showing next weekend at dusk — hit the kitchen for small bites and the bar for your choice of wine by the glass, beer, and fruity cocktails. 428 Court St., Plymouth. $34 per car. moonrisecinemas.com
SCIENCE ON SCREEN For three Wednesdays this summer, the Coolidge Corner Theatre will host free screenings on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. All of the films, shown in 35mm, touch on something related to the natural world — the lineup is “The Birds,” “Tremors,” and “Fast Five.” As an added educational bonus, the films will be introduced by local experts in the scientific fields that the films explore. June 15, July 13, and Aug. 10, at sunset. Rose Kennedy Greenway, between India St. and Milk St., Boston. Free. coolidge.org/type/outdoor-screenings
WELLFLEET DRIVE-IN THEATRE Cap off a trip to the Cape with a visit to the Wellfleet Drive-In, where there’s also a flea market, mini golf course, and indoor theater on site. The drive-in opens this weekend, and “Top Gun: Maverick” and “The Lost City” are slated for next weekend’s lineup. 51 US-6, Wellfleet. $15 per person ages 12-61, $12 per person ages 62+, $10 for children ages 4-11, and free for children 3 and under. wellfleetdrive.wpengine.com/drive-in-theatre
WENHAM STREET CINEMA A newcomer in the outdoor movie scene, the Wenham Street Cinema is housed in Matt Shuman’s Jamaica Plain garage, where anybody is invited to bring a chair and watch a free movie on a small projection screen. The makeshift cinema kicked off its 2022 season with a screening of “Encanto” on May 6, which, like all of the cinema’s showings, was publicized on the @wenhamstreetcinema Instagram page (and written on Shuman’s garage door). 23 Wenham St., Boston. Free. instagram.com/wenhamstreetcinema