The Best Summer Screenings—And We’re Not Talking Sunblock

Here’s where to go to get out of the theater and see movies under the stars
Capture Arkansas | Elish Palmer

Movies in the Park

Little Rock’s annual Movies in the Park series is returning to the First Security Amphitheater for its 14th season this summer. Each Wednesday night through July, you and yours can spread out on the lawn with a picnic or grab a front-row seat at the amphitheater to take in family-fun flicks such as Zootopia, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Beauty and the Beast (2017).

Classics on the Patio

Prefer to pair a little merlot with your movie? This series, co-sponsored by the Film Society of Little Rock and Crush Wine Bar, will go down easy. On the second Thursday of each month through October, get the kids a baby sitter, order up a cheese plate and your favorite glass of vino from the Argenta wine bar’s menu and head out to the patio for a screening of such films as Big Trouble in Little China, 9 to 5 and Aliens.

ASU-Newport Movies in the Park

The city of Newport is making the most of its new park on downtown’s Front Street with a summer entertainment series featuring a variety of activities, among them a family movie night held the second Saturday of each month through September. Treat your kiddos to some of the best animated films of the past few years, with screenings of Moana and Coco, or expose them to an old-school comedy like Ghostbusters. And if your littles are truly one with the Force, they won’t want to miss Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

First Friday Flix

Bentonville may have garnered acclaim over the past few years for its film festival, but when it comes to this summer’s screenings, it’s all about First Friday Flix. Head down to Lawrence Plaza on the first Friday of each month through October for a family-friendly movie night with selections like Wonder, Peter Rabbit and Cars 3. And if it gets a little warm out, just hop over to the park’s splash pad for a cool-off.

Northark Summer Movie Series

If you’re on the fence about this whole outdoor film screening thing, maybe a little free popcorn is all that’s needed to convince you. And if you happen to live near Harrison, the Northark Summer Movie Series is offering just such a deal at the Bill Baker Amphitheater, where they’re showing something for everyone with picks like The Sandlot, Sherlock Gnomes and Ready Player One. The series starts Saturday, June 2, and continues the last Saturday of each month through September.

Movies at the Market

Turns out you can get more than just fresh, farm-grown fruits and veggies at the farmers market. In fact, at the Hot Springs Farmers and Artisans Market, you can even get a movie night under the stars every Thursday night in June. Got a rugrat who loves dinosaurs? They’ll roar for The Land Before Time. Looking for ways to feed your tyke’s ballerina obsession? Leap! will leave them spinning. And if you know and love every word to Grease? Well, they’re showing that, too.

Crystal Bridges Movie Nights

The folks at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art are putting on a variety of outdoor film screenings throughout the summer for adults and children alike. If you prefer to keep your museum visits educational, don’t miss the documentary screening of Disneynature: Wings of Life. But if you never miss a chance to dress up in costume, you’ll want to check out the museum’s Sci-Fi Outdoor Series, where they’re screening the likes of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and encouraging patrons to decorate their bikes and ride to the North Lawn via the Crystal Bridges Trail.

Drive-In Theaters

If you want to go the retro route, take a trip back in time with one of The Natural State’s few remaining drive-in theaters. The Stone Drive-In in Mountain View, the Kenda Drive-In in Marshall and the 112 Drive-In in Fayetteville are continuing the tradition popularized in the 1950s with current-run films such as Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story.