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. Sure, the logistics will be a little more challenging, but these pop-up drive-in movie series might just be the biggest entertainment events of the season.
Under the new “limited stay-at-home” and curfew order effective November 21, non-essential businesses must close by 10 p.m. Please check with event organizers for cancellations or schedule updates.
Designed as an “immersive” movie-going experience, this drive-in series in Chinatown incorporates film, food, local designers and retailers, music, and charity, all in one. Each feature will be shows along with curated shorts, music videos, and additional programming; NTS Radio will provide DJ sets.
December 12, 5 p.m. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
December 13, 5 p.m. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
HOLLYWOOD & WEST HOLLYWOOD
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.
December 3, 6:30 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 5, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 6, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 7, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 8, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 10, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 11, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 12, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 14, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 15, 7 p.m. Tenet
December 16, 7 p.m. Tenet
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.
December 6, 6:30 p.m. Elf
December 13, 6:30 p.m. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
December 20, 6:30 p.m. A Christmas Story
December 26, 6:30 p.m. It’s a Wonderful Life
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.
December 3, 7 p.m. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
December 4, 5:30 p.m. Frosty the Snowman/Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
December 4, 7 p.m. Die Hard
December 5, 5:30 p.m. Charlie Brown Christmas/Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
December 5, 7 p.m. Elf
December 8, 5:30 p.m. Frosty the Snowman/Charlie Brown Christmas
December 8, 8 p.m. Home Alone
December 9, 7 p.m. Disney’s A Christmas Carol
December 10, 5:30 p.m. Charlie Brown Christmas/Frosty the Snowman
December 10, 7 p.m. The Polar Express
December 11, 7 p.m. Stuntwomen
December 15, 5:30 p.m. Frosty the Snowman/Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
December 15, 8 p.m. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 16, 5:30 p.m. Charlie Brown Christmas/The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
December 16, 8 p.m. Love Actually
December 17, 5:30 p.m. Frosty the Snowman/Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
December 17, 8 p.m. Die Hard
December 19, 7 p.m. This Is Spinal Tap
Rooftop Cinema Club had to scrub their typical open-air screenings due to the pandemic, but they’ve come back with car-based showings at the Santa Monica Airport.
December 2, 5:15 p.m. Happy Feet
December 2, 8 p.m. Elf
December 3, 5:15 p.m. Frozen II
December 3, 8 p.m. Jurassic Park
December 4, 5:15 p.m. The Greatest Showman
December 4, 8 p.m. Home Alone
December 5, 5:15 p.m. The Princess and the Frog
December 5, 7:30 p.m. Love Actually
December 9, 5:15 p.m. Arthur Christmas
December 9, 8 p.m. Elf
December 10, 5:15 p.m. The Polar Express
December 10, 8 p.m. Home Alone
December 11, 5:15 p.m. Elf
December 11, 8 p.m. 10 Things I Hate About You
December 12, 5:15 p.m. The Polar Express
December 12, 8 p.m. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 13, 5:15 p.m. The Nightmare Before Christmas
December 13, 7:30 p.m. A Christmas Story
December 16, 5:15 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
December 16, 8 p.m. Home Alone
December 17, 5:15 p.m. Ice Age
December 17, 7:30 p.m. Elf
December 18, 5:15 p.m. The Nightmare Before Christmas
December 18, 7:30 p.m. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 19, 5:15 p.m. Frozen
December 19, 8 p.m. Home Alone
December 20, 5:15 p.m. The Polar Express
December 20, 8 p.m. Home Alone
December 21, 5:15 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
December 21, 7:45 p.m. Elf
December 22, 5:15 p.m. Elf
December 22, 8 p.m. Elf
December 23, 5:15 p.m. The Nightmare Before Christmas
December 23, 7:30 p.m. It’s a Wonderful Life
December 26, 5:15 p.m. Frozen II
December 26, 8 p.m. Jurassic Park
December 28, 5:15 p.m. Sing
December 28, 8 p.m. Guardians of the Galaxy
December 29, 5:15 p.m. The Goonies
December 29, 8 p.m. Back to the Future
December 30, 5:15 p.m. Tangled
December 30, 8 p.m. Pretty Woman
SAN FERNANDO & SAN GABRIEL VALLEYS
One of L.A.’s favorite pop-up drive-ins—one that predates the pandemic—is back with a new Glendale location atop the old Sears parking garage at 236 N. Central Avenue.
Showtimes marked with an * fall after the 10 p.m. curfew, please check with organizer regarding refunds or rescheduled dates.
December 4, 7:15 p.m. Lethal Weapon
December 5, 7 p.m. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 6, 7 p.m. Gremlins
December 11, 7:15 p.m. Elf
December 12, 7 p.m. Love Actually
December 13, 7 p.m. Frozen
December 19, 7 p.m. It’s a Wonderful Life
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.
December 10, 7 p.m. Silent Night, Deadly Night
December 10, 9:30 p.m. New Year’s Evil
Calabasas & Arcadia
The biggest annual summer outdoor movie series didn’t let us down, pivoting to a program of in-car entertainment. Screenings take place at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas and Santa Anita Park in Arcadia; check listings for details.
December 5, 7:30 p.m. Elf
December 12, 7:30 p.m. Home Alone
December 18, 7 p.m. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 19, 7 p.m. Frozen
December 20, 7 p.m. A Christmas Story
December 21, 7 p.m. Home Alone
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.
December 3, 5 p.m. The Nightmare Before Christmas
December 4, 5 p.m. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
December 10, 5 p.m. Elf
December 11, 5 p.m. The Muppet Christmas Carol
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.
December 3, 5:15 p.m. The Karate Kid
December 4, 5:15 p.m. The Karate Kid
December 5, 5:15 p.m. The Karate Kid
December 6, 5:15 p.m. The Karate Kid
December 3, 8:15 p.m. Rush Hour
December 4, 8:15 p.m. Rush Hour
December 5, 8:15 p.m. Rush Hour
December 6, 8:15 p.m. Rush Hour
December 10, 5:15 p.m. Frida
December 11, 5:15 p.m. Frida
December 12, 5:15 p.m. Frida
December 13, 5:15 p.m. Frida
December 10, 8:15 p.m. Enter the Dragon
December 11, 8:15 p.m. Enter the Dragon
December 12, 8:15 p.m. Enter the Dragon
December 13, 8:15 p.m. Enter the Dragon
December 17, 5:15 p.m. Gremlins
December 18, 5:15 p.m. Gremlins
December 19, 5:15 p.m. Gremlins
December 20, 5:15 p.m. Gremlins
December 17, 8:15 p.m. Batman Returns
December 18, 8:15 p.m. Batman Returns
December 19, 8:15 p.m. Batman Returns
December 20, 8:15 p.m. Batman Returns
December 22, 5:15 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 23, 5:15 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 24, 5:15 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 25, 5:15 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 26, 5:15 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 27, 5:15 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 22, 8:15 p.m. Elf
December 23, 8:15 p.m. Elf
December 24, 8:15 p.m. Elf
December 25, 8:15 p.m. Elf
December 26, 8:15 p.m. Elf
December 27, 8:15 p.m. Elf
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.
December 11, 6:30 p.m The Polar Express
January 8, 6 p.m. Happy Feet
January 15, 6 p.m. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
January 29, 6 p.m Uncle Buck
Festive screenings pop up at the Hilton in Long Beach. Apple cider, hot cocoa, s’mores, and other family-friendly seasonal snacks are available for purchase.
December 1, 6 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
December 3, 6 p.m. Home Alone
December 8, 6 p.m. Jingle All the Way
December 10, 6 p.m. Elf
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.
December 10, 6:30 p.m. The Grinch
December 13, 6:30 p.m. Home Alone
December 16, 6:30 p.m. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
December 17, 6:30 p.m. Elf
December 20, 6:30 p.m. The Polar Express
December 21, 6:30 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 22, 6:30 p.m. The Santa Clause
December 23, 6:30 p.m. A Christmas Story
Orange County’s non-profit art house cinema is hosting drive-in nights at Anaheim’s Zion Lutheran Church & School. The two July dates scheduled so far have both sold out, but the org recommends subscribing to their newsletter to get announcements about more dates to come. Check out Frida’s “virtual cinema” streaming fundraiser, too.
December 4, 7 p.m. Batman Returns
December 8, 7 p.m. Destroy All Monsters
December 11, 7 p.m. Edward Scissorhands
December 12, 7 p.m. Die Hard
December 15, 7 p.m. Cats
December 18, 7 p.m. The Jungle Book (1967)
December 19, 7 p.m. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
December 22, 7 p.m. Black Christmas (1974)
December 24, 7 p.m. Gremlins
December 29, 7 p.m. Mandy
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.
December 3, 7:30 p.m. The Nightmare Before Christmas
December 4, 7:30 The Grinch
December 4, 7:30 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
December 5, 7 p.m. The Polar Express
December 6, 6 p.m. Frozen 2
December 6, 7:30 p.m. The Polar Express
You’ll be out of your car and seated on the roof pool deck of the JW Marriott at L.A. Live for this series. Tickets include a two course meal plus popcorn, full bar service is available.
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.
Your favorite walk-in(?) theater chain is heading outside, hosting films at the Vineland Drive-In. Sponsored by FIJI Water, the series focuses mostly on new-release indie flicks. Some showings include appearances by cast and crew.
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 at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.
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.
Enjoy the views from atop the garage of the Grove at these screenings. Tickets include a gourmet dinner package from Picnic Society by Gwen, including classic dishes and Halloween-themed treats.
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.
Country music festival Tailgate Fest may not have happened in August as originally planned, but the organizers put their car-partying expertise into a new venture: a series of drive-in movie nights.
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 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.
RELATED: Movie Theaters Are Still Closed, but These Drive-Ins Are Open for Business
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