Catching a movie under the stars is a natural step up from sitting in a dark, air-conditioned theater. After a long, hot summer day, sitting in the open air when the sun goes down easily becomes one of the biggest staples of summer next to bikinis and sparkler dogs. Since Fandango can't help you find the best outdoor screenings this summer, we've compiled the coolest (and cheapest) outdoor film experiences to give you a great excuse to get out of the house on a weeknight.
DTSA Rooftop Cinema. The Frida Cinema has started booking outdoor screenings on the top level of the parking structure behind the theater for a monthly DTSA Rooftop Cinema series. Each screening is announced weeks in advance, but you can get a taste of what's to come in the near future with a screening of the Emily Watson-Disney vehicle Beauty and the Beast. The Frida also invites you to be their guest (see what I did there?) by allowing attendees to park in the structure's lower levels for free, so you won't find yourself too far from your car after the credits roll. The Frida Cinema, 305 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 285-9422; thefridacinema.org.
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OC Parks Sunset Cinema. Throughout the summer, various parks in Orange County will rotate as host screening weekly films. Admission is free, and food trucks will be on-site for snack purchases. Organizing your own blanket and seating arrangements is encouraged for viewing such classic '80s films as Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Princess Bride and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, as well as family-friendly fare such as Moana, A Bug's Life and The LEGO Batman Movie. Scheduled scenic settings include Mason Regional Park, Salt Creek Beach, Yorba Regional Park and Laguna Niguel Regional Park. www.ocparks.com.
Movie Nights In the Backyard. If you're looking to level up on your fresh-air movie-going with cocktails and chef-prepared barbecue in a more controlled environment, Hotel Irvine offers a new take on outdoor screenings with its Movie Nights In the Backyard series. For just $5, you can watch the Oscar-winning neo-jazz musical La La Land or J.K. Rowling's screenwriting debut, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Booking a room might not be a bad idea either, but the VIP deal promises an especially sweet bonus of two front-row reserved seats, complimentary valet parking, a bottle of red or white wine, unlimited access to the meal and a free blanket. Every other moviegoing experience after this will just not be as ritzy. Hotel Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (888) 230-4452; www.hotelirvine.com/movienights.
Segerstrom's Movie Mondays. Catch such great classics as Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Wiz, Stand and Deliver, Edward Scissorhands, and School of Rock while lounging on the Segerstrom Center's grassy lawn next to Segerstrom Hall. Set-up begins at 5:30 p.m., and fun activities and games are scheduled before each film. You can grab some nosh from one of the available food trucks. Plus, for the first time, closed captioning for each film is offered. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.scfta.org.
Beachfront Cinema. Perhaps the most quintessential outdoor movie night in OC happens at the beach, and the year-round Beachfront Cinema events never disappoint with their assortment of classic and new Hollywood flicks. Among this summer's selections are Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jurassic Park, The Notebook, Jaws (perhaps the best tool to prevent surfers from going into the water during shark season) and Moana. The giant sprawl of Huntington State Beach allows for plenty of parties to set up together while enjoying eats from food trucks (outside food will not be allowed). Nab a season pass to make beachside movies an ongoing thing—we know you'll want to. Huntington State Beach, Newland Street and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntingon Beach; beachsidecinema.com.