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By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2019

The Best Outdoor Cinemas in Melbourne to Check Out Over Summer

Pack a picnic and catch a movie under the stars here.
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2019


Pack a picnic and catch a movie under the stars here.

Throw us a bit of sunshine and we'll take just about any inside activity to the great outdoors. Open-air moviegoing, however, is a clear favourite. Each year we inevitably see our favourite outdoor cinemas return for the summer and a couple of newbies always pop up too. From films overlooking the CBD to nestled among the sands at St Kilda Beach, these cinemas showcase the best new releases and cult favourites under the stars. So pack a snack basket of wine and cheese (this is mandatory), some Aeroguard and get your butt on a picnic rug for the evening. It's a perfect date idea or a great way to spend an evening with mates.

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    When Moonlight Cinema returns for its 2019–20 season, the annual feast of outdoor movies will give film fans exactly what we all want. Sure, we’re all keen to roll out our picnic blankets, sit under the stars and stare up at the big screen — but, given that this openair cinema launches at the end of each and every year, we also want Christmas movies.

    In the week leading up to the big festive day, Moonlight will screen Last Christmas, Die Hard, Home Alone, Love Actually and Elf. Yep, all the basics are covered. They’re not the only highlights from the just-dropped November, December and January program, but they sure do twinkle brightly among a heap of other movie standouts.

    Expect also to watch Rocketman, Hustlers, Joker, Ford v Ferrari, Knives Out, Cats, Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker and Charlie’s Angels — and, going retro, the outdoor cinema will mark 20 years since The Matrix with an anniversary screening, and revisit last year’s A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody. Dirty Dancing is also on the bill, like every year — it wouldn’t be a Moonlight without it.

    As always, Moonlight will also boast its usual food truck and licensed bar offering, and its reserved bean beds. You can also BYO booze and bring your dog.

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    The beloved Cameo Cinema will once again showcase some of the summer’s most talked-about films on its magnificent outdoor movie screen under the stars. From November 29 right through summer, audiences will get the chance to nestle down in deckchairs and beanbags, with craft beer, homemade choc-tops and freshly popped popcorn in hand. If that’s not worth the drive out to Belgrave, then we just don’t know what is.

    The Cameo Outdoor Cinema summer program has us pretty excited — screenings have only been announced up until January, with February to April titles set to be revealed at a later date. The season includes big releases like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (with a midnight screening on the night of Wednesday, December 18), Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and The Gentlemen, which stars Matthew McConaughey. Star-studded musical film Cats is on the lineup, too, and you can head along to a dress-up party screening, with themed cocktails, on New Year’s Eve.

    There is plenty for families and kidults, too, with Frozen II, The Addams Family and pre-Christmas screenings of Elf and Home Alone. And for those after a little retro fun, Labyrinth will be screened to celebrate David Bowie’s birthday

    It doesn’t hurt that the Cameo concessions are a cut above what you’ll find at your local shopping centre multiplex. They’ve got craft beer and boutique wines, or you can bring a picnic of your own — this is one cinema where you won’t have ushers pestering you about bringing in outside food. Dogs are welcome here, too.

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    Summer is in the air, and with it the smell of fresh popcorn, as starlight screenings return to Lido’s Rooftop Cinema in Hawthorn. Perched atop the eight-screen picture house overlooking Glenferrie Road, the outdoor screen will once again light up with a selection of new release movies in the open air.

    The Lido on the Roof season kicks off on Thursday, November 7, with The Irishman. Martin Scorsese’s new gangster flick  is one of a number of hotly anticipated summer movies on the program, with other highlights including Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, dark revenge film Judy and Punch and the new Charlie’s Angels starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska.

    Oh, and it’s also screening Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at midnight with live cantina tunes, Star Wars-inspired cocktails and prizes for best dressed. This one’ll sell out, so book a ticket ASAP if you’re keen.


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    American Express Openair Cinema St Kilda 2019

    Can you think of a better way to spend a muggy, summer night than heading down to St Kilda for an outdoor movie? From November 22 to December 20, American Express is letting you do just that when it brings its outdoor cinema back to St Kilda.

    Movies on these big screens will include some of 2019’s biggest hits, including Joaquin Phoenix as Joker, tear-jerker The Farewell and Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in HollywoodYou can also catch new releases Doctor SleepCharlie’s Angels and Knives Out. The season will end on Friday, December 20 with a screening of Last Christmas.

    Fitzroy’s Ladro will once again be slinging its woodfired pizza, and a bar, serving 4 Pines brews, Giesen wines and Pimm’s will keep your thirst quenched all night long. You can bring your own food, but no BYO booze.

    Oh, and it’s a dog-friendly space, so you don’t need to leave part of your family at home.

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    Rooftop Cinema 2019–20

    Come summer in Melbourne, you won’t just see stars on cinema screens — you’ll sit beneath them while you’re watching a movie. That’s what Rooftop Cinema promises each and every year, and the first part of its 2019–20 program certainly delivers. First stop: Joaquin Phoenix in Joker.

    Kicking off on the first day of summer (conveniently a Sunday) and running through until March 2019 (with the second half of the program still to be announced), there’s plenty more movie fun where that came from. Haven’t had a chance to see Bill Murray and Adam Driver hunt zombies in The Dead Don’t Die? Keen to check out Renee Zellweger’s exceptional performance in Judy? Want pretend you’re watching an 80s Elton John in Rocketman? You’ll find them all on the lineup.

    Don’t forget that checking out classics on the big screen is all part of the Rooftop Cinema experience as well, though. This year’s retro contingent includes tributes (Good Fellas, The Shawshank Redemption, Spirited Away, Raising Arizona, Clueless) and all manner of Christmas hijinks (Love Actually, Home Alone and Die Hard)

    If there’s ever been a reason to spend your evenings outdoors for the next few months, this is it. Rooftop Cinema takes place in the Melbourne CBD, on top of Curtin House, Swanston Street (between Little Bourke and Lonsdale Streets). The bar opens daily between 11am and 1am, with films starting at 9.30pm in December and January. The February and March program will be announced in late January.

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