Movies in the Park: A How To Guide

Most summers I try really hard to see as many movies in the Drive-in as I can, but this year I only went twice. For some reason, the matches were hardly to my liking. But I made up for this lack of drive-ins by indulging in another cinema specialty exclusive to summer. This year, I've been much more about going to the free screenings of movies in the park! And it's an absolutely marvelous experience... that is if all the pieces fall into place. From all my screenings I've learned that that doesn't always happen...so I'm here to impart what I've learned in a set of do's and don'ts in hopes to one day find the perfect movie in the park experience...I mean seriously, look at that picture. How cool is that? Who wouldn't want to go? Something pretty amazing about the city setting! But onto the list...


BRING PILLOWS!!! Of any piece of advice I've learned...this may be the very most important. Your entire comfort depends on this. Yes blankets are important but you're still just gonna be laying on the ground...and soon enough it will feel like torture! Unless of course you were smart enough to bring a pillow. And might I add, the prop up pillows are best. This way you get to see AND be comfy.

Something like this would suffice.

ARRIVE EARLY! It's hard to know when exactly your movie will start since dusk is a pretty broad term....and besides that the definition constantly changes throughout the course of a summer anyway! In this case, it's best to err on the side of being too early than being too late for two very important reasons. It's a rookie mistake to underestimate the importance of a good seat. Arriving early ensures you can get a prime spot with a good view. But more importantly, arriving early is crucial so you don't miss necessary exposition in your movie! Missing the beginning of Vertigo, and American Graffiti (which I had seen before, but my mind was foggy on the setup,) as well as Touch of Evil which I'd never seen, really took me a long time to figure out what was going on...and hindered my viewing of the film. Best to be there early so you don't miss anything!

KNOW YOUR MOVIE! Parents, before dragging your kid to an outdoor screening, do some research to see if the film you're seeing is actually appropriate for them. Yes, these things usually have family-friendly films, but even so... you should never assume. It was pretty irritating hearing the commentary of some nervous parents during American Graffiti. Newsflash, this movie has been around for 40 years! I'm sure there are ways to find out if you think your precious "little ones" should be subjected to it (hint, you're on it right now. it's called the internet.) But besides them... think of what the people around you are being subjected to! We are stuck hearing your kids whining because this movie isn't capturing their attention and your "well this is inappropriate..." comments that can't be restrained to a whisper. Everyone involved wins when you do your research. 

KNOW YOUR WEATHER! My favorite showing of the summer would have been Vertigo...had we not been caught in a huge thunderstorm in the middle of it (who am I kidding? That only added to the fun...) However, it might have been a good idea if I had brought a jacket, poncho, and umbrella to prepare for the flood so I could have prevented looking like a drowned rat....or you know I could have stayed home (since we were all sent home eventually anyway!) Going along with that, besides knowing the weather beforehand...it's good to know your venue. Like if, for example, the Sandlot's original lot  might give you an allergy attack and almost kill you, you might want to stay home.


FORGET TO BRING TREATS! Luckily most venues have some pretty cheap concession stands, but movies are always more fun with treats. Plus this along with the drive in, are one of the few venues where you can bring as much food as you want. So take advantage of it!

EAT A HUGE MEAL BEFOREHAND.  You never know how you're gonna have to position your body to get comfortable with these things. In the case of American Graffiti, I had to lay on one side the entire movie just to see the screen. That might not have been a big deal if I hadn't just eaten a very delicious and filling meal at a restaurant not too long before. I don't think food is supposed to digest laying on your side like that...so to avoid a case of sore guts, you might as well bring your dinner with you!

SIT TOO CLOSE OR TOO FAR FROM A SPEAKER. This one is a huge make or break to the outdoor cinema experience. As I mentioned before, you have to find JUST the right spot....but in terms of sound this is critical. If you sit too close, you'll get blasted. But if you sit too far, and the movie is a quiet one (Touch of Evil, I'm looking at you..) it will be really hard to pay attention. Sit near a speaker, but not RIGHT next to it for best results.

Yep. That's what I learned. Sure the season is almost over...but take advantage of this knowledge I learned the hard way while it lasts...or tuck it away for next year. 


Sarah said...

All good tips. Every last one of them. Where is the location of the picture at the very top? What a great venue!

Johanna said...

Sometime, I'm gonna have to try one of these. I may be too old, though. :)

You're funny.

Emily said...

The top picture was at the Gallivan Center, by far my favorite venue of the movies in the park!