Summer and the movies used to be great together. Escaping a dry, hot and windy day in the air-conditioned relief of a cinema was one of life’s simple pleasures. Me and my mate Simon would buy a ticket to an 11am session, then spend the whole day sneaking from cinema to cinema (via the snack bar) watching movies all day. Out in time for dinner, a sugar-crash, and home. Good times.
And while it’s still possible to sneak into sessions through the day at Melbourne‘s big chain cinemas (not that I’m recommending it, of course), daytime is so much busier these days, what with work and babies and stuff, making such decadent spontaneity difficult to arrange in advance.
So that leaves balmy summer evenings as the only warm-weather time to see movies. And until the advent of outdoor cinema in Melbourne, that meant staying inside at the best time of the day. No longer.
Moonlight Cinema was the trailblazer, setting up a screen in Melbourne’s lush Botanical Gardens and playing first-run, classic and cult movies under the stars. It took off and is now a real Melbourne experience, featuring catering, bean beds for hire and sell-out sessions most nights.
Competing for this chicken-and-white-wine market is the newer OpenAir cinema at Birrarung Mar, a fabulous park by the river in the city. An enormous screen, grandstand seating and movieplex titles draw huge book-ahead crowds and even bigger sponsorship deals.
But that leaves the hipsters with nowhere to go. Or it did until last year, when the gritty Rooftop CinemaThe Breakfast Club, Easy Rider, My Own Private Idaho or Dogs in Space. cranked up in the heart of the city and started showing a diverse range of indy and cult movies. The pick of the bunch now, Rooftop is perfect for those wanting a cold beer and a dose of
There’s also an open-air cinema down on the foreshore in St Kilda, on the rooftop of the St Kilda Sea Baths. I’m a bit scared of St Kilda (sea air does strange things to people, dontcha think?), so I can’t report first-hand on it. In 2010, it runs 13 January to 26 February most every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The schedule includes Avatar, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, 500 Days of Summer and many more. Check out their website — stkildaopenair.com.au — for schedule details and prices.
Planning a trip? Check out John’s Melbourne summertime travel tips and his Melbourne pub guide. Or have a look at all of Viator’s tours and things to do in Melbourne, from Colonial Tram Car dinners to Yarra Valley Wine Tasting.