Where to watch outdoor movies in Toronto this summer

From Christie Pits to Regent Park, there's no shortage of outdoor cinema options happening across the city in summer 2018

It’s nice to watch a movie outside. Assuming the night isn’t too humid and the mosquitos aren’t trying to eat you, and that guy who parrots back the best lines to his friends isn’t sitting directly behind you. Seriously, Gary, you’re the worst.

Anyway, Gary notwithstanding, Toronto’s summertime outdoor movie options are pretty great. Here’s a quick rundown of the season’s programs.

Christie Pits Film Festival

Toronto Outdoor Picture Show’s theme for this year is Cinematic Cities, spotlighting a different metropolis every week. This year, the series kicks off on June 17 in Fort York with recent Cannes winner Spike Lee’s 1989 breakthrough Do The Right Thing. After that, the series continues at the Christie Pits Film Festival with John Waters’s Baltimore-set Hairspray (June 24) then it’s Toronto via Sarah Goodman’s Porch Stories on Canada Day (July 1). Other destinations include Hong Kong in In The Mood For Love (July 15), Paris in Amélie (August 5) and Vienna in Before Sunrise (August 12). Every film will be preceded by at least one short, and the whole thing closes with a surprise screening on August 19. As always, this series is free/pwyc, with donations gratefully accepted.

June 17 at Fork York. topictureshow.com/fort-york June 24-August 19 at Christie Pits. Free/pwyc. christiepitsff.com.

Open Roof Festival

The summer-long music and film series relocates from 99 Sudbury to the Junction Triangle just west of the future Museum of Contemporary Art at 158 Sterling. The full list of films and bands have yet to be announced, but some of the confirmed titles include Wes Anderson’s Rushmore (June 20) Cory Finley’s stylish thriller Thoroughbreds (June 27) Darren Curtis’s Montreal-shot Boost (July 4) Greg Berlanti’s teen drama Love, Simon (July 11) Sophie Fiennes excellent doc Grace Jones: Bloodlight And Bami (July 18) Armando Ianucci’s critical fav The Death Of Stalin (July 25) and John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein’s mystery flick Game Night (August 1).

June 20-August 22. $15 adv. openrooffestival.com.

Sorauren Park

The west-end park screens movies on the fourth Saturday of every month from June to September. This year’s titles are Babe (June 23), Charade (July 28), Ghostbusters (August 25) and Moana (September 22). And… there will be pizza.

June 23, July 28, August 25, September 22. Free. soraurenpark.wordpress.com.

City Cinema

There’s nothing like trying to watch a movie surrounded by all the billboards in the world. But if you can ignore the mega-wattage and focus on the screen, this year’s City Cinema program is dedicated to rockumentaries. Get rolling June 26 with Festival Express, the 2003 celebration of 60s folk rock other highlights include the tribute concert Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man (July 10), the exhilarating Funk Brothers doc  Standing In The Shadows Of Motown (July 17) and Morgan Neville’s Oscar-winning examination of backup singers 20 Feet From Stardom (July 31). It wraps up August 28 with last year’s Tragically Hip curtain call Long Time Running.

June 26-August 28. ydsquare.ca.

Movies In St. James Park

The St. Lawrence Market BIA has three Wednesday night screenings lined up in St. James Park: Kissing Jessica Stein (June 21) for Pride Week preceded by a drag show on the Gazebo Stage, and later in the summer Coco (July 26) and Breaking Away (August 23).

June 31-August 23. Free. oldtowntoronto.ca.

Movie Nights In The Beach Village

Wednesdays are movie night in the Beach. Residents voted on the program, which is heavy on comedy classics like Uncle Buck (July 5), Mrs. Doubtfire (July 12), Ghostbusters (August 9), Mean Girls (August 16) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (August 30). Screening locations alternate between Kew Gardens and Ivan Forrest Gardens and popcorn is free.

July 5-August 30. Free. thebeachvillage.com.

Corktown Common Park

Yes, it’s exactly the same theme as the Sunday night series at Christie Pits, and it’s put on by the same organization, the Toronto Outdoor Picture Show. But here’s the twist: it’s on Thursdays, it’s only for the month of July, and the movies are different! (I guess that’s three twists.)

Up first on July 5 is William Wyler’s 1953 classic Roman Holiday Toronto-shot cult favourite Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World screens on July 12 Bob Fosse’s 1972 masterpiece Cabaret starring Liza Minelli screens on July 19 and the series caps off with Ava DuVernay’s 2014 film Selma.

July 5-26. Free/pwyc. topictureshow.com.

Dancing In The Park

Saturdays tend to be as quiet as Fridays for this sort of thing, but the Aga Khan Museum brings back its Dancing In The Park series for a second year with three screenings: La La Land, The Wiz and the animated kids film Ballerina.

July 7, August 4 & September 1. Free. agakhanmuseum.org.  

Under The Stars: Movies In The Park

The Regent Park Film Festival will host Wednesday night screenings in Regent Park – which makes sense, when you think about it – throughout July and August. The first screening is the 1997 live-action version of Cinderella starring Brandy and Whitney Houston (July 11), followed by animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli’s minimalist parable The Tale Of Princess Kaguya (July 18), and Tasha Hubbard’s family reunion doc Birth Of A Family. The August flicks are Pixar’s box-office hit Coco (August 1), Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood Hollywood (August 8) and the classic Whoopi Goldberg comedy Sister Act (August 15).

July 11-August 15. Free. regentparkfilmfestival.com.

Cinematic Cities in Parkway Forest Park

Toronto Picture Show, the non-profit that runs the Christie Pits Film Festival, is also hosting Cinematic Cities-themed screenings in Parkway Forest Park near Don Mills and Sheppard on Thursdays in August. The lineup includes the Ghostbusters reboot (August 9) Charles Officer’s excellent documentary Unarmed Verses (August 16), about the re-development of the community of Villaways Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief (August 23) and Ritesh Batra’s Mumbai-set romance The Lunchbox (August 30).

August 9-30. Free/pwyc. topictureshow.com.

Sail-In Cinema

People seem to prefer patios over outdoor movies on Friday and Saturday nights, but Sail-In Cinema – down at Sugar Beach during the dog days of the season – is one of the city’s biggest and most unique outdoor movie screenings. If you have a boat, you can drop anchor in a limited number of parking spots. You can go to their website and vote for the films you want to see!

August 10-11. Free. sailincinema.com.

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