There may be a pandemic, but you don’t have to give up outdoor movies–or at least not entirely. Clever pop-up series have shifted from crowding parks with viewers on picnic blankets to setting up massive parking-lot screens inspired by classic American drive-in movie theaters. These pop-up drive-in movie series might just be the biggest entertainment events of the season.
Please check with event organizers for cancellations or schedule updates.
Rooftop Cinema Club has come back with more drive-in showings at the Santa Monica Airport. Expect themed film series, and rollerskating servers bringing concessions to your car.
April 28, 8 p.m. Clueless
April 28, 10:30 p.m. Pulp Fiction
April 29, 8 p.m. La La Land
April 29, 11 p.m. Poltergeist
April 30, 8 p.m. The Sandlot
April 30, 10:45 p.m. Friday
May 1, 8 p.m. The Karate Kid
May 1, 11 p.m. Poetic Justice
May 3, 8 p.m. The Greatest Showman
May 3, 10:45 p.m. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
May 4, 8 p.m. Casablanca
May 4, 10:45 p.m. Coming to America
May 5, 8 p.m. Selena
May 5, 11 p.m. From Dusk Till Dawn
May 6, 8 p.m. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
May 6, 10:45 p.m. Dazed and Confused
May 1, 8 p.m. The Karate Kid
May 1, 11 p.m. Poetic Justice
May 7, 8 p.m. Coco
May 7, 10:45 p.m. Love & Basketball
After a hiatus, Drive-In at the Park is back. The series now takes place at venues in Culver City and Santa Clarita. Like to have a tailgate picnic or watch the movie from the back of your vehicle? Not all drive-ins allow that due to safety protocols, but this one appears to.
April 16, 7:30 p.m. Spies in Disguise
April 16, 9:45 p.m. Mean Girls
April 17, 7:30 p.m. Shrek 2
April 17, 9:45 p.m. The Exorcist
April 23, 7:30 p.m. Stand By Me
April 23, 9:45 p.m. Rocky IV
April 24, 7:30 p.m. The Sandlot
April 24, 9:45 p.m. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
April 30, 7:30 p.m. Wonder Woman 1984
The ultimate authority in outdoor movies has finally popped back up in this most unusual of film-going seasons. For now, that means a three-screening run as a drive in at the parking lot of the Greek theater. Tickets cover up to four guests inside the car.
April 16, 7 p.m. Selena
April 17, 7 p.m. Hairspray
April 23, 7 p.m. Alien
April 24, 7 p.m. The Parent Trap
Vintage single-screen Gardena Cinema has been entertaining audiences since 1946, and operated by the same family for the past 45 of those years. They’ve pivoted to drive-in screenings by converting their parking lot into a viewing area.
April 15, 8 p.m. Sonic the Hedgehog
April 15, 10:10 p.m. Beverly Hills Cop
April 16, 8 p.m. Sonic the Hedgehog
April 16, 10:10 p.m. Beverly Hills Cop
April 17, 8 p.m. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
April 17, 10:10 p.m. Purple Rain
April 18, 8 p.m. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
April 18, 10:10 p.m. Purple Rain
April 22, 8 p.m. Power Rangers
April 22, 10:10 p.m. John Wick
April 23, 8 p.m. Power Rangers
April 23, 10:10 p.m. John Wick
April 25, 8 p.m. Forrest Gump
April 25, 10:10 p.m. Risky Business
April 29, 8 p.m. Detective Pikachu
April 29, 10:10 p.m. Apocalypse Now
April 30, 8 p.m. Detective Pikachu
April 30, 10:10 p.m. Apocalypse Now
May 1, 8 p.m. Wonder Woman
May 1, 10:10 p.m. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Arthouse theater Arena Cinelounge is doing drive-in nights that focus on new and independent films, many of them not shown on any other big screens in town. Concessions including Arena’s popular flavored popcorn and pizzas from 800 Degrees are available for delivery to your car.
April 14, 7:50 p.m. The Big Lebowski
April 15, 7:50 p.m. The Big Lebowski
April 16, 8 p.m. Jakob’s Wife
April 16, 9:50 p.m. The Rookies
April 17, 8 p.m. Jakob’s Wife
April 17, 9:50 p.m. The Rookies
April 18, 7:50 p.m. Jakob’s Wife
April 18, 9:30 p.m. Bang! Bang!
April 19, 8 p.m. The Rookies
April 19, 9:59 p.m. Jakob’s Wife
April 22, 8 p.m. The Big Lebowski
April 23, 7:45 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 23, 9:55 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 24, 7:45 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 24, 9:55 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 25, 7:45 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 25, 9:55 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 26, 7:45 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 26, 9:55 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 27, 7:45 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 27, 9:55 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 28, 7:45 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 28, 9:55 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 29, 7:45 p.m. Mortal Kombat
April 29, 9:55 p.m. Mortal Kombat
La Cañada Flintridge
This new series at the La Cañada Thursday Club comes from Empire Lakes Productions, a new company founded during the pandemic to create social-distance-friendly events and experiences.
April 16, 8 p.m. Grease
April 17, 8 p.m. La La Land
April 18, 8 p.m. La La Land
April 23, 8 p.m. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
The Andaz hotel on the Sunset Strip has partnered for this series with YEA! Impact, a group that organizes entertainment industry professionals to work for social justice causes. In addition to film screenings, some events feature live performances; food and beverage is available to order.
April 17, 7:30 p.m. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
April 18, 7:30 p.m. Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story
April 23, 7:30 p.m. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
April 25, 6 p.m. Drive-In Oscar Viewing Party
April 30, 7:30 p.m. Clueless / Mean Girls
May 1, 7:30 p.m. This is Spinal Tap
May 4, 7:30 p.m. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
May 5, 7:30 p.m. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
May 6, 7:30 p.m. Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi
May 7, 7:30 p.m. Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace
May 8, 7:30 p.m. Star Wars Episode II: Revenge of the Sith
American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood is establishing this 30-car drive-in with plans to show films seven days a week. The theater is set up with a state of the art 4K projection system–under the loving care of the Hollywood Legion Theater’s chief projectionist–and there are plans to screen 35mm analog film, beloved by cinephiles, in the future.
April 21, 7:45 p.m. Thelma & Louise
April 23, 7:45 p.m. The Grand Budapest Hotel
April 26, 8 p.m. The Graduate
April 27, 8 p.m. Mulholland Drive
Enjoy throwback film screenings at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a possibly-haunted, definitely-glam Old Hollywood hotspot. The series offers both general and VIP tickets; refreshments will be available from a converted Airstream trailer bar.
April 19, 7:15 p.m. Rock of Ages
April 26, 7:15 p.m. Pitch Perfect 2
April 27, 7:15 p.m. Terminator: Dark Fate
You can now enjoy dinner and a movie at Pizzeria Da Michele. Roll your car into one of their free film screenings and order food to be car-hopped right to you while you watch. Nightly after sunset, two films each night. Call 323-366-2408 for programming details.
One of L.A.’s favorite pop-up drive-ins—one that predates the pandemic—is back with a Glendale location atop the old Sears parking garage at 236 N. Central Avenue and a new location at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station.
April 15, 8 p.m. Pulp Fiction
April 16, 8 p.m. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
April 17, 7:45 p.m. The Big Sleep
April 17, 10:15 p.m. The Big Lebowski
April 18, 8 p.m. Field of Dreams
April 20, 8 p.m. Pineapple Express
April 22, 8 p.m. Hereditary
April 23, 8 p.m. Jackie Brown
April 24, 8 p.m. Rear Window
April 24, 10:30 p.m. Blue Velvet
The 15-acre Roadium in Torrance opened in 1948 as a drive-in cinema, but by the ’80s the space was mostly used as a swap meet (specifically, the swap meet where, legend has it, a record seller introduced Eazy-E to Dr. Dre). Now the space is going back to its roots for occasional pop-up movie nights.
April 16, 7:30 p.m. The Little Rascals
April 23, 7:30 p.m. Sister Act
April 20, 7:30 p.m. Liar Liar
May 7, 8 p.m. Cars
Orange County’s non-profit art house cinema is hosting drive-in nights. Check out Frida’s “virtual cinema” streaming fundraiser, too.
April 15, 8 p.m. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
April 16, 8 p.m. Selena
April 17, 8 p.m. Alien / Aliens
April 20, 8 p.m. The Big Lebowski
April 29, 8 p.m. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
May 11, 8 p.m. Jacob’s Ladder
Screenings take place at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas, Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, and the Santa Monica Airport. Check listings for details.
May 15, 6:15 p.m. Jurassic Park
So, you’re fully vaccinated and desperate to get out of the car? This series might be just the thing. Screenings are seated outdoors, on the roof pool deck of the JW Marriott at L.A. Live. Tickets include a two-course meal plus popcorn, full bar service is available.
April 16, 6:30 p.m. Mama Mia Here We Go Again
April 17, 6:30 p.m. Hairspray
April 23, 6:30 p.m. Goodfellas
April 24, 7 p.m. 10 Things I Hate About You
May 1, 7 p.m. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
May 7, 7 p.m. Pretty Woman
May 8, 7 p.m. Selena
Brea, Westminster, & San Clemente
This O.C. screening series brings drive-in movie nights to the parking lots of three local shopping malls. Check event website to confirm screening location and other details.
April 16, 7:30 p.m. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
April 17, 7:30 p.m. Grease
The annual film festival celebrating LGBTQ+ cinema is back in a hybrid online and in-person form. Binge dozens of movies on their online Outfest Now streaming platform, and turn out for a selection of drive-in screenings.
April 18, 8 p.m. “Shorts: We Are Limitless” Program + One Minute Movie Contest
PERMANENT DRIVE-IN THEATERS
Looking for an old-school drive-in experience at one of the region’s remaining full-time drive-in movie theaters? Try the following.
Mission Tiki Drive-In Theater, Montclair
Paramount Drive-In Theater, Paramount
Van Buren Drive-In Theater, Riverside
Vineland Drive-In, City of Industry
Rubidoux Swap Meet and Drive-In, Riverside
West Wind Digital Drive-In, Santa Barbara
This move series presented by WUTI, All Worthy People, and Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions, features films that highlight the stories of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ voices. Some events feature in-person introductions and live DJ sets.
This popular rooftop (non drive-in) screening series is returning for a shortened, socially-distanced season. You’ll sit in designated chairs, spaced out from other groups, and must consent to temperature reading and mask requirements–but otherwise, it’s largely the classic summer tradition you remember.
A bummer about all these pop-ups? They sell out fast. This Long Beach pop-up drive-in, which is parking itself atop the Whole Foods parking deck at the 2nd and PCH shopping center, offers stand-by tickets on a first-come, first serve basis. Note that times vary based on sunset.
Presented by Porsche, this series will take place at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, with space to accommodate around 75 cars per showing. Attendees will need to agree to COVID-19 safety rules and sign a waiver to participate.
Curated by actor Michael B. Jordan (and featuring several of his starring roles) this Amazon-sponsored series of double-features takes place at City of Industry’s full-time drive-in movie theater, the Vineland Drive-In. Refreshments are on Amazon, all purchased from diverse-owned local businesses.
This national series has announced two SoCal locations, San Juan Capistrano and Woodland Hills, which schedule a limited run of films. Check the website for announcements of additional dates.
Love Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Then you’ll want to head to the Grove’s rooftop parking deck for this series, produced by Street Food Cinema and presented by Amazon Prime. Each screening night will feature episodes of the show, snacks, cupcakes, gift bags and more–and it’s all free with online registration (limit: two guests per car).
Sagebrush Cantina is offering micro-drive-in nights outside its Calabasas restaurant. In addition to a $25 pass for the car, you’ll need to spend at least $15 on food and drink from the restaurant during the show.
Not actually a drive-in series (more of a walk-up?) but we’re including here as it’s one of the very few outdoor movie options this summer that aren’t vehicle-based. In an attempt to comply with COVID protocols, a small number of guests will be able to purchase seats for these screenings, and the seats will be placed several feet apart. Additional protocols and guidelines can be found on the website. As in previous years, the series takes place on the roof at WeHo’s E.P. & L.P. and includes food and drink upgrades available for purchase.
Gather near the Malibu Country Mart at the site of Malibu’s annual Chili Cook Off for these community events on a three-story-tall screen. Online reservations are required; tickets are offered on a “donations requested” basis.
Held at Dignity Sports Arena in Carson, home of the L.A. Galaxy, this new series benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs. When you buy a ticket for your own car ($50) you can also opt to donate one to a family in need. The set-up already accommodates 200 cars, but organizers say they may be able to expand capacity soon.
The L.A. Zoo is using its ample parking lot for a family-friendly drive-in series. They’ve grouped their sections into three themes: “Hair-Raising Halloween,” “The Brilliant Betty White,” and, naturally, “Animal Adventures.” Films are accompanied by pre-show entertainment featuring videos of zoo animals and other fun add-ons. For Halloween screenings, participants are encouraged to come in costume or decorate their car for the occasion.
For the last few summers, this pop-up series was already offering the drive-in experience, so we’re happy to see they returned this year. The films are typically Valley-centric in content or filming locations. Screenings take place at the Westfield Fashion Square mall in Sherman Oaks.
Local art house cinema chain Laemmle has adapted to the current moment by taking screenings to the Roadium drive-in theater in Torrance. Expect quirky new indie films, some accompanied by filmmaker talk-backs.
Get out of the car and sit in a distanced deck chair by the pool at this swanky Santa Monica hotel. Sunset films offer a romantic date night option or fun family outing. Tickets are free with a $25 food and drink minimum; full service from FIG Restaurant is available.
This special dinner-and-a-movie event series pairs beloved indie-leaning movies with meals crafted by top chefs. Your ticket includes admission to the film, screened on the event deck at L.A. Live, along with a three-course (plus beverage) meal for each person, overseen by Lexus Culinary Masters.
The Regency Theaters chain has opened this Van Nuys drive-in movie theater offering screenings under the stars. A full concession stand is available, orders can be placed in advance online to minimize wait time.
The Village at Westfield Topanga shopping center hosts this holiday-themed screening series, so you can can combine a movie and some gift shopping for a festive outing.
Enjoy the views from atop the garage of the Grove at these screenings. Tickets include a dinner package, with classic dishes and holiday-themed treats.
Located at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, this series is run by the same organizers who are also using the venue for drive-in concerts from Third Eye Blind, Fitz and the Tantrums, and other acts. More showings to be announced.
American Cinematheque, normally based in Hollywood, and Beyond Fest have teamed up to curate occasional nights at the Mission Tiki Drive-In Theater located in Montclair. It might be a bit of a hike, but Cinematheque devotees probably won’t mind.
The L.A. Arts Society has always staged screenings for fellow cinephiles–they just look a little different this year. Showings are staged at the “backlot” of the indie Gardena Cinema theater; some include in-person appearances by talent.
Marina del Rey
Pack some snacks and head out to Marina del Rey for this waterside screening series, presented by the L.A. County Department of Beaches & Harbors and staged in the parking lot of the public boat launch.
This event outside SoFi Stadium features two film screenings, plus opportunities to order food from local restaurants including Hotville Chicken and Jon & Vinny’s, as well as shop limited-edition merch.
L.A.’s newest drive-in series takes over the parking lot outside a historic Sears building in Santa Monica for showings of new releases. Your ticket includes an “experience pack” with popcorn, drinks, and assigned parking; optional meals can be ordered in advance for in-car dining. Cinephiles will enjoy the high-lumen projectors that rival those used in the best indoor theaters.
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