Nov 03, 2023

Outdoor movie series are coming to Bay Area parks and pools

"Inside Out" plays at the West Wind Solano 2 drive-in theater in Concord.

With a continuation of long-established outdoor arts programming and a recently heightened appreciation for al fresco activities, the possibilities for taking in culture while outside have never been better.

Outdoor film series are popping up around the Bay Area, giving a nod to drive-in theaters ubiquitous in the past. The following series are presented on temporary screens set up in parks, downtown plazas and parking lots. Some even offer food and seating options to make for a lovely, loungy summer evening.

Here are the best outdoor movie events coming to an open space near you:

Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Chris Evans, and Sox, voiced by Peter Sohn, in a scene from the Disney/Pixar animated film "Lightyear." The film will be screened as part of the Alameda's "Starlight Movies in the Park" outdoor movie series.

The family-focused events begin with games and crafts for children, followed by movie screenings after dusk. Snacks will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the Alameda Youth Committee and its teen programming.

Films on the schedule include on Friday, June 2: "Minions: The Rise of Gru"; Friday, July 21: "Lightyear"; Friday, Aug. 25: "Space Jam: A New Legacy," and Friday, Sept. 15: "Top Gun: Maverick."

6:30 p.m. kids activities; 8:15-8:45 p.m. film screenings. Friday, June 2, July 21 and Aug. 25 at Alameda Point Multi-Purpose Field, 1101 W. Redline Ave., Alameda. Friday, Sept. 15 at Leydecker Field, 3225 Mecartney Road, Alameda. 510-747-7529.

Bundle up and watch a film at The Cut's Outdoor Cinema at The Crossing.

Year-round outdoor cinema comes to downtown San Francisco. Seating options include blankets, reclining deck chairs and oversized bean bags on outdoor rugs. Popcorn, candy and beverages (including beer, wine and cocktail options) as well as warm merchandise will be available for purchase.

Upcoming films include on Friday, June 2: "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love"; Saturday, June 3: "Strange World" and "Boys Don't Cry"; Sunday, June 4: "Finding Nemo" and "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

Multiple screenings Fridays-Sundays. Ongoing. $15.75-$28.75, reservations encouraged. Outdoor Cinema at the Crossing at East Cut, 250 Main St., S.F. thecutoutdoorcinemacom

The free outdoor movie series will feature films shown at parks across the city just after sunset.

Films on the schedule include on Thursday, June 8: "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" at Alamo Square; Friday, June 30: "Top Gun: Maverick" at the Presidio; Friday, July 21: "Moana" at Crane Cove Park; Friday, Aug. 18: "Mamma Mia" sing-along at Dolores Park; Friday, Sept. 8: "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" at India Basin Shoreline Park; Friday, Sept. 29: "Legally Blonde" at the Ferry Building; Friday, Oct. 20: "Ghostbusters" at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.

Films begin promptly after sundown. Free, reservations encouraged. See website for park locations in S.F. 415-621-3260.

San Franciscans gathered before sundown to watch a movie in Washington Square Park as part of the S.F. Parks Alliance and Do the Bay's seasonal Sundown Cinema series.

Part of the dependable lineup of seasonal, outdoor arts programming from Redwood City Events, the outdoor movie series offers Thursday evening double features for the whole family.

Films on the schedule include on June 8: "Paddington 2" and "Thor: Love and Thunder"; June 15: "Creed III"; June 22: "Turning Red"; July 6: "Lightyear"; July 20: "Arrival"; July 27: "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"; Aug. 3: "Minions: The Rise of Gru" and "Jurassic World: Dominion"; Aug. 10: "Elvis"; Aug. 17: "Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody"; Aug. 24: "Groundhog Day"; Aug. 31: "DC League of Super-Pets."

6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursdays. Through Aug. 31. Free. Courthouse Square, downtown Redwood City. 650-780-7250.

Bring a blanket, sleeping bag or beach chairs to sit on as you enjoy a family-friendly film screening under the Berkeley stars.

Films on the schedule include on June 16: "From the Rough" at Live Oak Park; June 30: "Minions: The Rise of Gru" at Strawberry Creek Park; July 14: "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" at San Pablo Park; July 28: "DC League of Super-Pets" at James Kenney Park; Aug. 11: "Turning Red" at Cedar Rose Park; Aug. 25: "Strange World" at Willard Park; Sept. 8: "Vivo" at Glendale La Loma Park; Sept. 22: "The War with Grandpa" at Codornices Park; Sept. 30: "Disney Nature: Wings of Life" at Shorebird Park.

8:30 p.m. Friday, June 16 and 30, July 14 and 28; 8 p.m. Aug. 11 and 25; 7 p.m. Sept. 8, 22 and 30. Free. Through Sept. 30. At various Berkeley parks. 510-981-2489.

An overhead view of the scene at Movies at the Green at Green Music Center in Rohnert Park.

Enjoy classic boardwalk amusements, then settle in with fresh saltwater taffy and boardwalk snacks for surfside film screenings on the big screen. Bring a beach blanket or low-back chair for seating.

9 p.m. Fridays. June 16-Aug. 11. Free. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz. 831-423-5590.

Claim a spot out on the nicely manicured lawn at Sonoma's Weill Hall and enjoy a family-friendly Saturday evening film screening. Bring a picnic or pick up some eats from rotating on-site food vendors.

Films on the schedule include on June 17: "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"; July 22: "Frozen" and "Frozen 2"; July 29: "Top Gun: Maverick"; Aug. 12: "Cars" and "Cars 2"; Sept.16: "The Super Mario Brothers Movie."

5 p.m. Through Sept. 16. $5, under 12 free. Reservations encouraged. Weill Lawn, Green Music Center, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 707-664-4246.

Hayward Area Recreation and Parks District presents a season of outdoor movie screenings on summer evenings in regional parks. Bring along a picnic, a blanket or low-backed chairs for seating.

Films on the schedule include on Friday, June 23: "Lightyear"; Saturday, July 21: "DC League of Super Pets"; Friday, Aug. 18: "Turning Red"; Friday, Sept. 8: "Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania."

7:30 p.m. June 23, July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 8. Various Hayward area parks. 510-881-6700.

The scene at a past Waterfront Flicks event at Jack London square.

Grab a round of drinks at the historical Heinhold's First and Last Chance Saloon, where Jack London practiced his writing and dinner out ahead of the movie at one of the cool venues at the East Bay locale. Options for takeout are also available for a picnic-style supper.

Films on the schedule include on June 24: "Mean Girls"; July 1: Back to the Future"; July 8: "Finding Dory"; July 15: "Minions: The Rise of Gru."

8:30 p.m. Friday. June 24-July 15. Free. Jack London Square, Broadway at Embarcadero West, Oakland. 510-645-9292.

Movie screenings presented by the Orinda Parks and Recreation Department and Community Foundation are in full swing again. Be sure to bring your own seating and snacks. Events take place on Friday evenings just after dusk.

Films on the schedule include on July 7: "Minions: The Rise of Gru"; July 14: "Night at the Museum"; Aug. 18: "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish"; Aug. 25 "Encanto"; Oct. 6: "Super Mario Brothers Movie."

8-10 p.m. July 7 and 14; Aug. 18 and 25 and Oct. 6. Free. Orinda Community Center Park, 28 Orinda Way, Orinda. 925-254-2445.

If you seek an authentic drive-in experience, West Wind's outdoor theater chain has three locations in Northern California offering that classic vibe. Each offers a wide variety of film choices and screening times.

Movie times and schedules vary. $2-$9, reservations encouraged. West Wind Solano, 1611 Solano Way, Concord. 925-825-1951; West Wind Capitol Drive-In, 3630 Hillcap Ave., San Jose. 408-226-2251; West Wind Sacramento, 9616 Oates Drive, Sacramento. 916-363-6572.

A driver enters to watch the movie at the West Wind Solano 2 drive-in theater in Concord.

Spend the evening with friends and family while enjoying a movie poolside, under the stars. Recreational swim session starts at 7 p.m., followed by a movie screening just after sundown.

Films on the schedule include on Friday, June 23: "Despicable Me"; Friday, July 7: "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish"; Friday, Aug. 4: "Top Gun: Maverick."

7 p.m. June 23, July 7 and Aug. 4. $1, registration recommended. San Ramon Olympic Pool, 9900 Broadmoor Drive, San Ramon. 925-973-3240.

Enjoy the Disney animated adventure "Princess and the Frog" from the swim center's pool or poolside.

Friday, July 14. $8, registration required. Encinal Swim Center, 230 Central Ave., Alameda. 510-747-7529.

Bring a raft and hang out in the pool, or stay dry on a blanket as you watch the feature film "DC League of Super-Pets." Concessions available for purchase.

8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 29. Free, registration required. Walter V Graham Aquatic Center, 1100 Alamo Drive, Vacaville. 707-469-4028.

Reach Anne Schrager: [email protected]