Stars Under the Stars: Boston’s Outdoor Movie Series

Posted June 18, 2015 by Cheryl Fenton in Downtown Boston
Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds

Yes, the summer is synonymous with blockbuster movies. All that air conditioning, giant popcorn buckets and fast action big screen drama lures the crowds. But there’s something about a classic tale set among the stars that still captures our attention. If “go big or go home” is your motto, enjoy your time in a big theater. When you’re ready for a change, here are a few options around Boston for classic films in classic outdoor settings.

The Coolidge Corner Theatre: Brookline’s quirky cinema house has a movie date with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. It’s outdoor screening series The Coolidge at The Greenway takes place at sunset at Wharf District Park and offers a special selection of films that draw from its Big Screen Classics program. The series brings you the classic ’60s coming-of-age story with hot rods, drive-ins and rock n’ roll, American Graffiti on June 16 (rain date: June 23), Alfred Hitchcock’s tale of avian terror, The Birds on July 14 (rain date: July 21), and the adventures of a homesick alien, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial on August 4 (rain date: August 11). Each movie will be projected in 35mm onto a screen 12 feet high by 30 feet wide.

The Boston Harbor Hotel: Boston’s iconic hotel hosts its 17th annual Summer in the City series, full of alfresco dining and waterfront entertaining. The cinematic side screens classic movies on Fridays, with a stellar lineup against a backdrop of the starlit harbor. Movies begin at dusk, and this season includes Groundhog Day (June 19), The Princess Bride (June 26), Rocky (July 3), Big (July 10), African Queen (July 17), Young Frankenstein (July 24), Field of Dreams (July 31), The Big Sleep (August 7), Raiders of the Lost Ark (August 14), Now Voyager (August 21), The Apartment (August 28) and The Quiet Man (September 4).

The DCR Hatchshell: For 30 years, moviegoers have chosen this Charles Rivers setting on Friday evenings. The movies start at dusk (hovering around 8pm), and are usually blockbusters from summers past that will delight people of all ages. Word to the wise: The lawn fills up on a first-come, first-serve basis, so come early with your blanket or lawn chair and maybe even a picnic (leave the booze at home though). Since they’re doing some serious work on the lawn early this summer, the schedule hasn’t been updated yet but it’s on its way.

The Prudential Center: In the South Garden of this 23-acre complex in Boston’s historic Back Bay District, families enjoy films at sunset as part of the Magic 106.7 Family Film Festival. The large lawn, peripheral cafe-style outdoor seating, sculptures and a water fountain all add to the outdoor movie “theater” experience. Bring a blanket and the entertainment begins at 6pm. This season’s movie schedule includes The Boxtrolls (July 11), Frozen (July 18), Big Hero Six (July 25), Up (August 1), Paddington (August 8), Ratatouille (August 15), Toy Story (August 22) and Despicable Me (August 29).

With summer in full swing, it’s time to get out there and enjoy Boston’s refreshing sea breezes, luscious lawns and a little star-gazing.