Peak Summer in New York City: Enjoying an Outdoor Movie with Rooftop Cinema Club



I love movies. From the classics to the contemporaries, the small indies to the big blockbusters.  We’ve written some posts about how movie buffs like ourselves geek out here in New York City, from attending the legendary Tribeca Film Festival to enjoying an opening week screening in a small, neighborhood theater. But let’s face it: most of us just streamed movies from our bed all winter. So now that the weather has warmed up, it’s time to put down the remote and partake in one of the most enjoyable summer activities available: watching a movie outdoors, under the New York City sky.  

New Yorkers are fortunate that there are numerous free outdoor movie screenings offered in many of the city’s amazing parks throughout the summer. You could watch The Omen at Bryant Park or Purple Rain at Hudson River Park. You could enjoy American Graffiti at Brooklyn Bridge Park or The Royal Tenenbaums at McCarren Park. But we’re not the only ones who love movies in New York City, and we’re definitely not the only ones who love free activities. City dwellers wait in anticipation for the schedules to be released at the beginning of the season and appear en masse for showtime.  In order to find a spot most of us have to turn up hours earlier, often with blankets and refreshments in tow.

Outdoor Movie Rooftop Cinema Club - Mad Hatters NYC

Outdoor Movie Rooftop Cinema Club - Mad Hatters NYC

Outdoor Movie Rooftop Cinema Club - Mad Hatters NYC

If you find yourself in the position of wanting to partake in this summer ritual, but not necessarily wanting to battle your fellow New Yorkers for that coveted patch of grass, then turn to a private operation like Rooftop Cinema Club.  The outfit screens outdoor movies in London, New York and Los Angeles, and it offers a more intimate experience that is sure to appeal to all movie buffs.

We attended a showing of Roman Holiday via Rooftop Cinema Club on the YOTEL rooftop (one of its two New York locations),  and I couldn’t help but hear that MasterCard ad campaign of yesteryear play in my head:

Movie ticket, including popcorn and champagne: $30
Stunning rooftop views: Priceless

At Rooftop Cinema Club, the staff comes around before showtime to arm you with a box of popcorn and a small bottle of champagne. If the light snack and bubbly do not leave you satiated, YOTEL has a rooftop bar just a few steps away which serves food and drinks through 11pm. The screening occurs rain or shine (with obvious exceptions for severe inclement weather). There was a light drizzle during our visit so we were supplied with ponchos.  The scattered raindrops came and went throughout the evening and brought with them a moderate breeze, which ended up being a refreshing change from the recent spate of  punishing temperatures.  And the shadowy sky provided the most amazing backdrop for our evening entertainment.  

Outdoor Movie Rooftop Cinema Club - Mad Hatters NYC

Outdoor Movie Rooftop Cinema Club - Mad Hatters NYC

Outdoor Movie Rooftop Cinema Club - Mad Hatters NYC

We sat in our striped beach chairs with our headphones on, and we watched as Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck made their way around Rome, with scenes from Piazza Navona, the Coliseum and Castel Santagelo flashing before us. Roman Holiday is credited as Audrey Hepburn’s breakout movie, and watching her nimbly maneuver the light romantic comedy reminds you why she deserved the Oscar for it.  The hair and the outfits? Cherries on top. Afterwards Justin and I reminisced about the first trip to Rome we made over a decade ago, happily talking about one amazing city as we strolled through another.

Visit Rooftop Cinema Club’s website to see their upcoming schedule and to buy tickets.



Pair it with:

A meal and Otto’s Tacos… and ice cream from Ample Hills

Otto's Tacos - Mad Hatters NYC

Otto's Tacos - Mad Hatters NYC

Years of avid movie watching has taken our movie snacking game to the next level.  A good strategy has to include solid pre-movie and post-movie options.  For the pre-movie meal–which should be light enough to still enable snacking during the movie–we propose you head over to Otto’s Tacos in Hell’s Kitchen.  The tacos are made in-house daily, where masa dough is squished into hearty, flavorful tortillas that don’t ever seem to crumble.  There is a wide selection that includes seafood and veggie options, and most of the tacos are gluten-free.  And don’t shy away from the masa fries. The same gluten-free dough is used to churn out slightly crunchy sticks perfect for dipping in a spicy mayo sauce. The tacos are served individually, so you can order as many or as few as your tummy can accommodate.

Ample Hills - Mad Hatters NYC

Ample Hills - Mad Hatters NYC

As for post-movie grub, we recommend heading to Gotham West Market, where Ample Hills offers some of the best ice cream in the city.  The Brooklyn mom-and-pop creamery (literally: they were new parents when they opened shop in 2011) offers a host of fun and creative flavors.  Grab a small cup or cone to cap off a magical evening.

Otto’s Tacos Location:
705 9th Ave

Otto’s Tacos Hours:
Sun – Thur 11am – 11pm
Fri & Sat 11am – 12am

Ample Hills Location:
600 11th Ave

Ample Hills Hours:
Sun-Thu: Noon-11pm
Fri-Sat: Noon-Midnight

– L.

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