Film Frenzy: Where to watch outdoor movies in western Queens

Photo: Ethan B. Van Buskirk/QNS

There are plenty of opportunities to watch films under the stars without even leaving western Queens. These four summer film series all have their own unique characters and show different types of movies, so you might just want to try them all. Plus, since they’re all free, there’s no excuse to stay home and watch Netflix instead. Pack your popcorn, bug spray and something to sit on, then head out and enjoy the show!

Also, make sure to check out Astoria resident Frank Zagottis’ homemade film festival, which he has been hosting in his backyard for a decade.

#1 Astoria Park


The outdoor movies shown on the great lawn at Astoria Park have been a summer staple for years. You’re in for a great view with the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge to your left, the Hell Gate Bridge to your right, and the East River and Manhattan skyline sparkling behind the movie screen. The slope of the lawn makes it easy to see over the heads of moviegoers seated in front of you. Still, these events are usually packed, so arrive early if you want to sit close to the screen.

The last two films of the summer are ‘80s favorite “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (Aug. 15) and the ‘70s classic “Jaws” (Aug. 22), both at 8:30 p.m.

19th Street between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria

#2 Socrates Sculpture Park

Photo: Ethan B. Van Buskirk/QNS

If you’re not into the mainstream, family-friendly fare shown at Astoria Park, the international films shown each Wednesday at Socrates Sculpture Park in partnership with Rooftop Films might be more up your alley. It’s what you’d expect from this off-beat (but well-loved) neighborhood park, home not only to its ever-changing sculpture exhibitions but also to a whole host of festivals, educational activities and exercise programs.

You probably haven’t heard of any of the titles shown here, because the films hail from countries around the world. Arrive early, because pre-screening cultural performances start at 7 p.m. Coming up later this month: “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” (Germany/Peru) on Aug. 17 and “Embrace of the Serpent” (Colombia) on Aug. 24.

32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City

#3 Cinema LIC at Hunter’s Point South Park

cinema lic
Photo: Katrina Medoff/QNS

Definitely bring something comfy to sit on for this film series, because the turf field you’ll throw your blanket down on starts to feel hard and uncomfortable very quickly. But it’s worth it; the view of the Manhattan skyline from Hunter’s Point South Park is unparalleled.

Stake out a spot on the turf, then watch the sun set on the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, World Trade Center and more as you wait for your movie to start. Short films from the Queens World Film Festival act as amuse-bouches before each of the features. “August Rush,” fittingly, plays this month (Thursday, Aug. 11, at 8:30 p.m.), followed by “Zootopia” at 8 p.m. on Aug. 25 and “Ghost” at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 15.

Center Boulevard and 51st Avenue, Long Island City

#4 St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church

Photo: Katrina Medoff/QNS

Small-town charm abounds in the parking lot of this Roman Catholic church, where box office hits are shown on Friday nights (through the last Friday in August). Bring some cash so you can stock up on popcorn, hamburgers, candy and more being sold on folding tables before the movie starts as well as during intermission (that’s right, the movie is paused halfway through—sometimes mid-sentence—to give the audience a bathroom and snack break). Then pull up one of the folding chairs stacked up behind the church and settle in for family favorites like “Cinderella,” shown earlier this summer. Just know that you might be the only outsider in this close community of churchgoers (but you’ll certainly be welcomed).

The schedule hasn’t been finalized, but if you’re strolling down 30th Avenue, you can see signs hanging on the fence in front of the church that will tell you what’s showing next.

43-19 30th Ave., Astoria

More from Around New York