Seattle Center

Tips For Surviving Seattle Outdoor Movies

No kite flying!

With outdoor movies, you tend to picture a field of squirrels and hovering birds enjoying the latest Transformers film, surrounded by trees leaning in to get a better view. But people tend to show up to these things too, and people have rules, unfortunately. How should one prepare for an outdoor movie? And do the same standards of etiquette as indoor movies apply? Not at all. It’s pure chaos, but negotiable chaos.

Seating Arrangements

If grass were comfortable, we never would have invented chairs. It can sometimes feel like being stabbed with thousands of Nerf needles. To avoid this fertilized scourge, there are various options for bum placement, including blankets, office chairs, beach towels, swing sets, lawn chairs, ant hills, bouncy castles, mousepads, cars, and whatever outdoor sculptures are available.

Sightlines are a major issue here, because when one couple is sitting on a blanket and the couple in front of them is sitting on throne-like lawn chairs, hostility tends to ensue. Most parks ask that people bring only low-back lawn chairs. Those with high ones are supposed to sit in the back with the other troublemakers, or at least dig a hole so the top of their chair is level with the ground. I haven’t tested this idea.

Outdoor-Movie Etiquette

The rules on texting and talking during an outdoor movie are a bit of a gray area. With squirrels running down the aisles and birds flying in front of the screen, anything seems to go. If birds won’t stop tweeting during a movie, why should you? People can get thrown out of a theater for talking too much, but it’s difficult to throw someone out of a park, because parks are big and offenders can just keep running in circles until the ushers get tired.

A few other things: Don’t have a water-gun fight, mow the lawn, or fly a kite. Don’t play tag. Don’t walk around seated people with a metal detector. No Frisbees, boomerangs, or bootlegging drones. Don’t turn on the sprinklers, even if it’s for a Slip ’n Slide. No zip-lining, tetherball, or games of catch with your dad. No Civil War re-enactments, even if you’re watching a Civil War film. And for God’s sake, do not tunnel under people when you want to switch seats. Just walk around.

How to Prepare, Snack-Wise

One advantage to outdoor movies is you can totally bring your own snacks, and don’t have to hide them in your pants or bury them ahead of time. There’s no little “Let’s go out to the lobby” ditty before the movie. The entire park is a lobby. Use this newfound freedom to bring everything you’ve always wanted to nosh on at a movie, like soft cheeses, boeuf bourguignon, or a real example. If you show up without anything but want to avoid grazing on grass and weeds, several parks will feature food trucks and concessions.

The great thing about watching a movie outdoors on a blanket is that afterward you’re forced to deal with all the fallen popcorn you dropped, rather than abandoning it to the dark void of a cinema floor. This wake-up call will help improve your popcorn-to-mouth ratio.

And Now, Your Feature Presentation

Nearly every showtime at all venues begins at dusk. When exactly is dusk? It’s that precise time when you’ll have trouble seeing the dog poop on the ground. Have fun!

Seattle Outdoor Cinema

Saturdays, c. 9:15 p.m.

July 22 The Big Lebowski (Dude Fest, 21+)

July 29 La La Land

Aug. 5 The Dark Knight

Movies at Westlake Park (free!)

Fridays, c. 9 p.m.

July 21 Ghostbusters (2016)

Aug. 4 Moana

Aug. 11 La La Land

Aug. 18 Star Wars: Rogue One

Aug. 25 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Three Dollar Bill Cinema: Parental Advisory? Cal Anderson Park (free!)

Fridays, c. 8:30 p.m.

Aug. 11 Beetlejuice

Aug. 18 But I’m a Cheerleader

Aug. 25 Juno

Seattle Outdoor Movies at Magnuson Park

Thursdays, dusk

July 20 Hidden Figures

July 27 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Aug. 3 La La Land

Aug. 10 The Lego Batman Movie

Aug. 17 Fantastic Beasts . . .

Aug. 24 The Princess Bride

Movies at Seattle Center Mural (free!)

Saturdays, c. 9 p.m.

July 29 The Princess Bride

Aug. 5 La La Land

Aug. 12 Hidden Figures

Aug. 19 Clue

Aug. 26 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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