The Ultimate Guide to Free
Outdoor Indoor Movies in NYC For 2021
Bryant Park Movie Nights | Between 40th & 42nds Streets and Fifth & Sixth Avenues, New York, NY 10018 | (212) 768-4242 - Postponed Temporarily
CinemaLIC in the Park | Hunters Point Park, 51st & Borden Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101 | (212) 639-9675 - Postponed Temporarily
The 50th Mixtape | 70 Lincoln Center Plaza #4, New York, NY 10023 | (212) 768-4242 - Postponed Temporarily
Films on the Green | Various NYC Locales | (212) 439-1425 - Postponed Temporarily
Hudson Riverflicks NYC Films & Family Fridays | Pier 46 & 63, Hudson River Park, 353 West Street, New York, NY 10011 | (212) 627-2020 - Postponed Temporarily
Intrepid Summer Movie Series | Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036 | (212) 245-0072 - Postponed Temporarily
MOCA Cinema at Columbus Park | Columbus Park, Mulberry Street & Baxter Street, New York, NY 10013 | (855) 955-MOCA - Postponed Temporarily
Movies Under the Stars | Various NYC Locales | (212) 408-0243 - Postponed Temporarily
Movies with a View | Brooklyn Bridge Park, 334 Furman Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 | (718) 222-9939 - Postponed Temporarily
Outdoor Cinema at Socrates Sculpture Park | Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11106 | (718) 956-1819 - Postponed Temporarily
Outdoor Movie Nights at Randall’s Island Park | 20 Randall’s Island Park, New York, NY 10035 | (212) 830-7722 - Postponed Temporarily
Rooftop Films Summer Series | Various NYC Locales | (718) 417-7362 - Postponed Temporarily
Summer on the Hudson Pier I Picture Show, Riverside Park | Riverside Park, West 70th Street, Manhattan - Postponed Temporarily
The Ultimate Guide to Free Outdoor Movies in NYC for 2021
“Cinema is a mirror that can change the world.” – Diego Luna
Summer in New York City always brings to mind the plethora of free outdoor movie showings. Unfortunately, all the NYC outdoor movie showings have been postponed temporarily. But don’t despair! Treat your family to an outdoor adventure – indoors! If you and your family are feeling cooped up in the house, perhaps the best antidote is to take an outdoor adventure via the viewing of some cinema favorites in the comfort of your own living room! Here are some classic (and not-so-classic) outdoor films to consider for your viewing pleasure, many of which are currently available for streaming:
Alone in the Wilderness (2004)
A fascinating documentary first broadcast on PBS, Alone in the Wilderness highlights the solitary adventures of Richard “Dick” Proenneke, who retired at the age of 50 in 1967 and headed out to the Alaskan wilderness to build a cabin on the shores of Twin Lakes, where he remained for the next 30 years – enduring many hardships and triumphs along the way. Available for Streaming on YouTube
At the Drive-In (2017)
A must-see for movie buffs, this amazing documentary celebrates the joy of cinema with its depiction of a handful of film enthusiasts engaged in a heroic effort to keep open The Mahoning Drive-In, one of the oldest and largest drive-in movie theaters in the United States, as it struggles to survive in a digital world that has completely passed it by. Trailer | Available for Streaming on Amazon Prime
The Call of the Wild (2020)
Jack London’s 1903 classic adventure story is once again brought to the silver screen in this heartwarming adaptation starring a grizzled Harrison Ford and a digitally created dog named Buck as they confront the unforgiving Yukon wilderness. Trailer | Available for Streaming on Disney Plus
Continental Divide (1981)
In this amusing “fish-out-of-water” romantic comedy that involves a total change of pace from his typical “Bluto” of Animal House persona, the late, great John Belushi portrays a cocky, flask-chugging Chicago newspaper columnist who is forced by his editor to head out to the Rocky Mountains and interview a free-spirited bald eagle researcher portrayed by Blair Brown. Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
Free Solo (2018)
Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, this superb Academy Award-winning documentary showcases the impressive achievement of renowned rock climber Alex Honnold, who shocked the climbing world in June 2017 when he accomplished the first free solo ascent of the 3,000-foot-tall rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
Frozen II (2019)
The original Disney animated film Frozen was released in 2013, received rave reviews, won a “Best Animated Feature” Oscar and scored a whopping $1.280 billion at the box office, so we absolutely knew there would eventually be a Frozen II and the sequel delivers with the further outdoor adventures of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf “as they explore the history of the enchanted forest outside Arendelle.” Trailer | Available for Streaming on Disney Plus
The Great Outdoors (1988)
Written by John Hughes of Home Alone fame, this slapstick summer family vacation comedy follows the exploits of “Chet” (John Candy) and his family as they spend an increasingly chaotic getaway at a rundown Wisconsin lake resort and have to deal with the likes of clever raccoons, a mythical “Bald-Headed” grizzly bear, the “Old 96’er” challenge, and especially the unexpected arrival of obnoxious brother-in-law “Roman” (Dan Aykroyd) and his equally annoying family. Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
A remake of the 1963 Disney film The Incredible Journey, Homeward Bound is the perfect family movie that follows the adventures of an American Bulldog named “Chance” (voiced by Michael J. Fox), an old Golden Retriever named “Shadow” (voiced by Don Ameche) and a Himalayan cat named “Sassy” (voiced by Sally Field) as they make their way through the rugged wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Trailer | Available for Streaming on Disney Plus
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
A delightfully whimsical and extremely funny movie about self-discovery in the rugged outback of New Zealand, Hunt for the Wilderpeople was based on Barry Crump’s 1986 book Wild Pork and Watercress, and stars Sam Neill as “Uncle Hector” and Julian Dennison as “Ricky Baker.” Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
With the Jumanji craze in full gear, why not revisit the original classic directed by Joe Johnston (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) and starring Robin Williams in a loose adaptation of the 1981 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg that features a supernatural board game that unleashes “jungle-based perils.” Better yet, make it a double feature and add Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the mix! Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
A true hidden treasure, this highly entertaining revisionist Western was directed by Sydney Pollack (Tootsie) and coscripted by John Milius (who coscripted Apocalypse Now with Francis Ford Coppola), stars Robert Redford in the title role and Will Geer as “Bear Claw” Chris Lapp, and was partly based on the legend of a real-life mountain man as portrayed in Robert Bunker’s book, Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson. Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
Regardless of the topic, no movie list can be considered complete without at least one Bill Murray film, so why not revisit his breakthrough role as “Tripper Harrison” in this raunchy comedy concerning a cheaply run summer camp called “Camp North Star” that competes in the Inter-Camp Olympics against the much wealthier “Camp Mohawk” down the road (warning: avoid all of the abysmal sequels!). Trailer | Available for Streaming on Tubi
Mile … Mile & a Half (2013)
A truly inspiring crowdfunded documentary that traces the adventures of a group of five friends who leave their daily lives behind as they set out to hike the famously rugged, 211-mile-long John Muir Trail, which extends from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney in California, and record their experiences along the way. Trailer | Available for Streaming on Amazon Prime
The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (2009)
If you enjoy the immersive approach Ken Burns takes to all of his critically acclaimed documentaries, then you absolutely must watch this comprehensive miniseries narrated by Peter Coyote that traces the fascinating history of the United States National Park system. Trailer | Available for Streaming on Amazon Prime
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Directed by Steven Spielberg and simply one of the best action-adventure movies of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark stars Harrison Ford as globe-trotting archaeologist “Indiana Jones,” who is hired by U.S. government agents to locate the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can obtain its awesome powers. Trailer | Available for Streaming on Netflix
A River Runs Through It (1992)
A beautifully shot period drama directed by Robert Redford, A River Runs Through It stars a young Brad Pitt in one of his early breakthrough roles and Craig Sheffer (you might remember him as villain “Hardy Jenns” in the classic 1987 teen comedy Some Kind of Wonderful) as two brothers – one studious and the other rebellious – as they come of age (and learn some serious fly fishing along the way) in Montana during the 1920s and 1930s. Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
In this reasonably entertaining adaptation of James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same name, Ben Stiller stars in the title role as a befuddled “negative assets manager” for Life magazine who secretly fantasizes about embarking on a more adventurous life. Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
Up the Creek (1984)
If you’re seeking a truly tasteless comedy along the lines of Animal House, then look no further than Up the Creek, which stars Animal House alumni Tim “Otter” Matheson and Stephen “Flounder” Furst, as well as Dan Monahan (“Pee Wee” from Porky’s), as a bunch of total college rejects who compete in an extremely disorganized inter-collegiate whitewater rafting race. Trailer | Available for Streaming on Amazon Prime
A Walk in the Woods (2015)
Based on the hilarious bestselling 1998 memoir of the same name by Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods is a fairly entertaining comedy-drama that stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte as two out-of-shape and extremely hapless hikers who set out in an attempt to hike the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
Reese Witherspoon was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as a Pacific Crest Trail hiker in this inspirational drama that costars Laura Dern (who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress) and was based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Trailer | Available for Rent on Amazon Prime
As always, you can still check out the following free NYC outdoor movie screenings when things get back to normal:
Bryant Park Movie Nights
Billed as “New York’s Longest-Running Free Outdoor Summer Movie Series,” Bryant Park Movie Nights began in 1992 and boasts a new 40-foot, high-definition LED screen. Long associated with HBO, Bryant Park Movie Nights has a new sponsor in Netflix. So, grab a blanket, head to Bryant Park and check out the lineup of free outdoor movies. It’s the perfect way to beat the Monday blues this summer! Food items are available for purchase on the Fountain Terrace, and a beer and wine vendor can be found at the eastern end of the lawn. Sorry, no chairs, tables, plastic ground coverings or dogs are allowed on the lawn. Ideally located in Midtown Manhattan and adjacent to the New York Public Library, Bryant Park is the perfect spot for free summer outdoor movie nights in NYC. Known as “Manhattan’s Town Square,” Bryant Park attracts more than 12 million visitors annually.
WHERE: Between 40th & 42nds Streets and Fifth & Sixth Avenues, New York, NY 10018 | WHO: (212) 768-4242
CinemaLIC in the Park
A scenic waterfront park in Queens, Hunters Point Park hosts the Cinema LIC summer movie series, which is sponsored by Nest Seekers International and the NYC Ferry. These free movies at this NYC venue begin promptly at sundown and are shown on a 24-foot-tall inflatable screen. Bring your own picnic feast or enjoy the convenience of purchasing food and beverages at Coffeed’s snack stand.
WHERE: Hunters Point Park, 51st & Borden Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101 | WHO: (212) 639-9675
The 50th Mixtape, Lincoln Center
The eclectic selection of free double-feature outdoor screenings that make up the 50th Mixtape this summer serves as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the storied Film at Lincoln Center (formerly known as the Film Society of Lincoln Center). Held on Thursday nights starting in late June, the 50th Mixtape features a great combination of “all-time and recent favorites” that “zigzags across recent film history.” Founded in 1969, Film at Lincoln Center celebrates American and international film with its variety of programs and annual events, including the legendary New York Film Festival, as well as noteworthy cinematic publications such as Film Comment. Dig in and enjoy this favorite free movie binge that so many New York City locals have come to love!
WHERE: 70 Lincoln Center Plaza #4, New York, NY 10023 | WHO: (212) 768-4242
Films on the Green
Films on the Green is a free outdoor French film festival. Produced annually by the French Embassy, FACE Foundation and NYC Parks, Films on the Green takes place in several locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn such as Washington Square Park, Transmitter Park, Tompkins Square Park and Riverside Park, among others. Be sure to get to Films on the Green early so you can enjoy music by DJs from WNYU and WHCU prior to these free Manhattan film screenings. Note: All films are presented with English subtitles.
WHERE: Various NYC Locales | WHO: (212) 439-1425
Hudson Riverflicks NYC Films & Family Fridays
The free outdoor movie series at Hudson River Park known as Hudson Riverflicks features a great lineup of NYC Films on Wednesday nights at Pier 63, along with Family Fridays at Pier 46 that the entire family can enjoy. The longest riverfront park in the United States, Hudson River Park first opened in 1998, runs for 4.5 miles along Manhattan’s West side and attracts approximately 17 million visitors each year.
WHERE: Pier 46 & 63, Hudson River Park, 353 West Street, New York, NY 10011 | WHO: (212) 627-2020
Intrepid Summer Movie Series
Inarguably the most unique venue to host NYC outdoor movie screenings, the Intrepid Summer Movie Series allows you to watch a film on the flight deck of the former aircraft carrier USS Intrepid! The flight deck opens at 5 PM on movie night and seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Alcohol is not permitted on the premises. A National Historic Landmark, the USS Intrepid is docked at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which features interactive exhibits and original artifacts surrounding the ship, which first launched in 1943, and survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike.
WHERE: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036 | WHO: (212) 245-0072
MOCA Cinema at Columbus Park
Bustling Columbus Park in Chinatown is the setting for free outdoor film screenings hosted by MOCA (Museum of Chinese in America) and NYC Parks. Founded in 1980, MOCA “is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States.” One of New York City’s first major urban parks, Columbus Park was named after Christopher Columbus and was previously known as Mulberry Bend Park, Five Points Park and Paradise Park.
WHERE: Columbus Park, Mulberry Street & Baxter Street, New York, NY 10013 | WHO: (855) 955-MOCA
Movies Under the Stars
If you need to catch up on the latest award-winning movies and blockbusters, Movies Under the Stars is the place to be in NYC this summer! Sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and NYC Parks, Movies Under the Stars takes place in a variety of Manhattan locales throughout the month of June.
WHERE: Various NYC Locales | WHO: (212) 408-0243
Movies with a View, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn
During its 20-year stint as a free outdoor movie venue in NYC, Movies with a View has entertained more than 500,000 moviegoers. Billed as “one of New York City’s favorite film series,” Movies with a View takes place every Thursday night in July and August at Pier 1’s Harbor View Lawn. Attendees of Movies with a View can enjoy burgers, pizza, ice cream, beer, wine and more from Smorgasburg at the Pier 1 promenade.
WHERE: Brooklyn Bridge Park, 334 Furman Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 | WHO: (718) 222-9939
Outdoor Cinema at Socrates Sculpture Park
Held on Wednesday in July and August, the Outdoor Cinema at Socrates Sculpture Park is an acclaimed international film festival presented in partnership with Film Forum and in collaboration with Rooftop Films that also features music and dance performances before the screening, as well as delicious cuisine from each movie’s country of origin. Note: All films are presented with English subtitles. The largest outdoor art museum in New York City, the award-winning Socrates Sculpture Park lies just one block from the acclaimed Noguchi Museum.
WHERE: Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11106 | WHO: (718) 956-1819
Outdoor Movie Nights at Randall’s Island Park
Randall’s Island Park (aka “Festival Island”) features free outdoor movies on select nights from June through early September. Known as “New York’s premier destination for sports and recreation,” Randall’s Island Park boasts more than 60 athletic fields, Icahn Stadium (world-class track & field facility), Sportime Tennis Center with 20 state-of-the-art tennis courts, Randall’s Island Golf Center (driving range and two miniature golf courses) and more. The Park attracts more than 3 million visitors annually.
WHERE: 20 Randall’s Island Park, New York, NY 10035 | WHO: (212) 830-7722
Rooftop Films Summer Series
Billed as “New York’s largest outdoor film celebration,” the Summer Series from Rooftop Films offers a great lineup of movies, which are free with an RSVP. Each of the film screenings highlighted in the Rooftop Film Summer Series also features “live music, immersive performances, filmmaker Q&As and huge after-parties.”
WHERE: Various NYC Locales | WHO: (718) 417-7362
Summer on the Hudson Pier I Picture Show, Riverside Park
Scenic Riverside Park hosts the annual Summer on the Hudson Pier I Picture Show. Movies take place every Wednesday from mid-July to mid-August.
WHERE: Riverside Park, West 70th Street, Manhattan | WHO: N/A
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