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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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