What is it about outdoor movies that make them so alluring? Despite massive multi-plex theaters putting drive-ins out of business, people still feel drawn to outdoor venues for movie-watching. Movie theaters provide a completely enclosed, climate-controlled environment, with the audio reverberating off the walls, and darkness cocooning the glowing screen. With stadium seating, digital projection, and other technological luxuries theater owners have worked tirelessly to create the ultimate movie-going experience. Yet people continually return to parks and parking lots to watch outdoor movies among the stars and mosquitoes.
Where the theater isolates the viewer to an almost intimate movie-watching experience, outdoor movies thrust the audience into a community experience. Ambient light from streetlights and the moon draws the film and audience into a symbiotic environment. A train passing in the distance becomes part of the background, and the audience around you becomes part of the story.
As the warm summertime weather lingers, outdoor movies continue to pop up under the moonlight. The Hamptons area in New York has a variety of outdoor cinema screenings to offer, from kids movies in the park to evocative art gallery installations.
Outdoor Movies for Family Fun
For free family fun, Southampton Town screens movies in the park each Monday night, at 9pm. The films are always family-fare, for a very cheap night out that's fun for parents and kids alike.
This Monday you can see Bedtime Stories on the Great Lawn in Westhampton Beach. If that is a great location for you, you can look forward to more outdoor films on Aug. 3 and Aug. 17.
The Quogue Wildlife Refuge continues its family film series, Movies Under the Stars, on two Wednesdays, August 12 and 19. Admission is $4 per person. For information, visit www.quoguewildliferefuge.com
Modern-Day Drive-In Movies
Though most drive-in the theaters are now dusty relics of the past, many people look upon those old theaters with a fondness. Therefore, there are a few outdoor cinema events taking place around the Hamptons that aim to bring us back to an older time. The Southampton Chamber of Commerce will be holding outdoor cinema screenings to recreate the drive-in experience. At the Elks Grounds in Southampton, there will be room for cars to park and view the film from there, or movie-goers can spread out blankets and chairs to watch the movie outside their cars. The proceeds from the movies will go towards the Chamber's building expansion fund. On July 23 you can see Bee Movie , and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa will screen on July 28. If you want to watch from your car like the old drive-in days, it'll cost a whopping $40, and $25 to park away from the screen and watch the movie from a blanket or beach chair but remember, this is all going towards a good cause! People will start arriving around 7pm and the movie starts at dark. For reservations and more information, visit www.southamptonchamber.com
Another flashback to the drive in will be presenting the Star Wars original trilogy in 3 separate installments. The first installment, Star Wars: Episode 4A New Hope was shown last night at Maidstone Park in East Hampton. Screenings continue on August 20 ( The Empire Strikes Back ) and September 11 ( Return of the Jedi ). Admission is $10 for adults and $5 per child. Most of the younger generation never got to see these awesome films on the big screen, so this is an outdoor film opportunity you won't want to miss. Visit www.hamptonsdrivein.com
for more information.
Along the same retro-nostalgic lines, classic 80's movies will be shown at the outdoor amphitheater at the Children's Museum of the East End (CMEE) in Bridgehampton. The outdoor movies are presented by East Hampton Rotary and Hamptons Drive-In. On July 30 they will screen Back to the Future , and August 13 is Ghostbusters . Admission is $10 for adults and $5 per child. Movies begin at 8:30 p.m. Visit www.easthamptonrotary.us
for more information about these present-day drive-in movie screenings.
If that wasn't enough 80's films for you, you can also see Goonies on August 11 at Films on the Lawn , the outdoor movie series held at The Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton. This outdoor film will begin at 8pm. Admission is $7 for adults and a $5 suggested donation per child and benefits Camp Karole. Visit http://jcoh.net
for more info.
Outdoor Films as Art Installations
Various art galleries and other art venues are including outdoor movies with, or as a part of, their current installations. For example, you can see classic outdoor films at the Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton. They are free each Friday. The films are shown on a beautiful grassy field, spotted with hay bales. The field has a slight slope which is perfect to allow everyone a good view of the screen. Silas Marder has chosen to show classic films in order to give them a proper venue. Classic films are rarely seen anymore, though they are some of the best films ever made.
The 10-week series of classic films is tied together with the theme Dissent . Tonight's film is Dr. Strangelove ; the following weeks will screen Some Like it Hot , Invasion of the Body Snatchers , and The French Connection . More information about the gallery and the beautiful outdoor film venue can be found at www.silasmarder.com
Also at the Silas Marder Gallery, outdoor films are being utilized in their current art show. A short, animated film depicts a whale swimming through blue waters. Giganticism , as it has been named, is screened in the gallery barn. And at the exhibition opening last week they screened a documentary onto the side of a box truck. It was the 1977 documentary film, The Powers of Ten, and was very popular with visitors to the gallery. Prior exhibitions have included looping video installed in a hedgerow ( Beasties by Barry Anderson) and large-scale film or image projections onto the outer walls of the towering barn that contains the gallery. Silas Marder enjoys using film as an art form, and presenting it in unique and unexpected ways, such as the outdoor screenings on various buildings or surfaces.
Another intriguing art gallery incorporating outdoor films is Gallery BelAge in Westhampton. The gallery focuses on work by untrained or amateur artists, providing a venue for art that may not fit into conventional arenas. As a part of this theme, the gallery hosts an outdoor film series called Outsider Art in their front courtyard. The indie films are easily visible from Main Street, and draws passerbys to the gallery. Similarly, it draws attention these films which are too obscure to be seen elsewhere. July 25 will screen a short film on East Moriches artist Peter Marbury (1939-2009) made by his son, Sebastian as well as a full-length film, In the Realms of the UnrealThe Mystery of Henry Darger. On August 29 you can see Jean Michel Basquiat: Downtown 81, a fictitious day-in-the-life of Basquiat that taps into the raw creative energy of the 1970s. Visit www.galeriebelage.com
for more info.
The Hamptons certainly seems to be inundated with outdoor movies during this summer season, but don't let them pass you by. I love seeing art galleries displaying outdoor films in such an unusual and interesting way, and with free movies in the park and retro drive-in movies, there's something for everyone.