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Outdoor Movie Season Heats Up With Summer

This past week has reminded every D.C. resident just how serious the summers here can be. High temperatures and even higher humidity are the norm in this city during the day.

That doesn’t mean the nights are unpleasant. On the contrary, since it is so hot and humid, the evenings stay plenty warm, so you can comfortably sit outside in shorts and tee shirts and enjoy the still air.

And with the weather having already turned permanently toward the warmer, one of Washington’s favorite summer pastimes is well underway across the metro area.

Outdoor movies.

Almost every neighborhood in this town sets aside one night a week to put up a giant projector on a lawn and play a movie. The theme’s range from kid-friendly to the classics, but one thing is for sure. There are so many options around, there is no doubt an outdoor movie for you.

The most well-known, and most popular of all, is Screen on the Green. Take a blanket and a cooler full of snacks down to the National Mall on Monday nights from the end of July to the middle of August. There, a gigantic projector  is ready to play films from American lore. This year, the four pictures chosen are E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Norma Rae, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and Tootsie.

The movies kick off around dusk—typically 8:30 p.m.—but that doesn’t mean you can;t arrive then. Some people show up right after work to get a prime seat.

Just because Screen on the Green is over a month away doesn’t mean you need to wait to get a film fix. Many are already well underway. Across the river from the National Mall, the Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival kicked off two weeks ago, showing movies in Gateway Park, two blocks from the Rosslyn Metro.

The theme for this year’s set of films is a mish-mash of 80s, 90s, and early 2000s party pictures. So heading to there, you may catch Risky Business, 10 Things I Hate About You, Pretty in Pink, Can’t Hardly Wait, or even High School Musical 3.

Just down the street from Rosslyn is another of D.C’s most popular outdoor movie nights. Crystal City returned with its Monday night lineup this past week. It’s is held right across from the Crystal City Metro and runs all the way until the end of August. This year, Crystal Screen, as it’s known, will be show blockbusters: Oscar-nominated and famous films, that run the gamut from drama to action to romance. So while this upcoming Monday, The Social Network is playing, The Blind Side and Jaws will also be screen, alongside Inception and The Help.

Back in the District, one of the city’s burgeoning neighborhoods has their own outdoor screen. NoMa Summer Screen kicked off two weeks ago, and their focus for the summer is Outlaw Heroes. So familiar movies with strong leads will be played, such as Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, True Grit and The Fugitive. The lawn for the screen is located on L Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets in Northeast and is up every Wednesday. On Tuesday’s, though, the same screen will put the focus on the family, showing kid-friendly flicks. Movies like How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story run during the month of July.

Alongside the District and Virginia, Maryland has several of their own outdoor movie showcases. In downtown Bethesda, the Bethesda Urban Partnership puts on a five-day stretch of movies, from July 23-27. Starting Tuesday and ending Friday, a screen in the Woodmont Triangle will play The Princess Bride, Rear Window, Back to the Future, The Hunger Games and Life of Pi.

North of Bethesda, the Rockville Town Square’s summer movie session runs from June 12 to August 21. It’s an eclectic mix of action-adventure films like Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.

So this summer, even when the mercury is unbearable, remember that there’s always the evening. Which in D.C., is a quintessential way to enjoy a movie.

Oh, did I mention all these are free?

– David

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