Sydney, Australia: World Famous Harbor Home to Giant Outdoor Movie Screen

What do you do with one of the world's most majestic harbour views? You erect a giant movie screen in front of it, haul up grandstand seating and direct people's attention to films instead.

At least, you do if you run the St George OpenAir Cinema, which is expecting 66,000 people to visit Mrs Macquaries Point this summer to see it.

The managing director of Cinerent OpenAir, Rob Bryant, admits erecting a screen on the harbour foreshore is a bit decadent.

''It is a little over the top, unimaginable,'' he says. ''It's about celebrating the city we're living in - and then there's the bonus of having a film on top of it.''

The St George Open Air Cinema offers a three-storey-high screen, new-release films and a bar and restaurant (patrons aren't allowed to bring their own food) - and if this doesn't appeal, there are five other regular open-air cinemas operating this summer. There's the Bondi Openair, North Sydney's ME Bank Starlight Cinema, Centennial Park's Ford Fiesta Moonlight Cinema, Homebush's Movies in the Overflow and Tropfest in the Domain (see breakout box for details).

Location aside, what makes these cinemas different is their crowd, atmosphere and movie selection.

For example, in contrast to St George OpenAir's grandstand seating, line-up of premiere and preview films and its advice to book ahead, Moonlight Cinema prides itself on having cult and classic movies and a relaxed feel.

''You can just roll up and you can usually get tickets at the gate,'' Moonlight's event director, Simon Bogle, says.

There are even doggie nights for those with cinephile canines.

''We did it last summer for the first time in years and it was just such a big hit with owners of dogs, so we thought we'd do it again,'' Bogle says. ''The dogs were incredibly well behaved but we must have had hundreds of them there.''

Another attraction is the 15-metre by eight-metre inflatable screen.

''It's a bit of theatre watching this thing inflate before your eyes before the movie starts,'' Bogle says.

Jill Keyte, who started Starlight seven years ago and also uses an inflatable screen, agrees.

''When people come through the gate at Starlight there's this sense of anticipation and they see the screen and there's a lot of oohing and aahing,'' she says.

Keyte says Starlight has more of a family vibe and this is reflected in its line-up, which includesВ Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs andВ Where the Wild Things Are.

As you'd expect from a beachside suburb, Bondi's Openair has a few surf films in the mix and what it calls Sunset hour, when musicians play from 6.30 before each film.

When it comes to free films, go for Movies in the Overflow or Tropfes


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