The Show Must Go On: Free Film Screenings in Washington

Check out our roundup of where to watch movies under the stars this summer.

By: Emily Leaman

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Screen on the Green might not happen this year (boo!), but don’t worry—there are plenty of other free-film events happening throughout Washington. Check out our roundup of where to watch movies under the stars this summer.

DC
NoMa Summer Screen
On Wednesday evenings in June and July, head to DC’s NoMa neighborhood for a free, music-themed film lineup that includes a mix of documentaries and biographical flicks. The roster includes Jamie Foxx in Ray and a documentary on hip-hop DJs. Get the full roster here. The series kicks off June 10. Films start at 7 PM at L Street, Northeast, between Second and Third streets near the New York Avenue Metro stop.

’80s Outdoor Movies
The Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District is bringing back its free-film series, this time with an ’80s theme. Movies are Thursday nights at sundown from June 4 through August 6. The movie Big makes an appearance, as do Caddy Shack, The Breakfast Club, and Top Gun. Screenings are at Tingey Plaza (100 Tingey St., SE), behind the Department of Transportation building. Click here for the calender.

Summer Camp Film Series
The Hirshhorn's free film series returns this year with a Godzilla theme. For three consecutive Thursdays—June 11, 18, and 25—the Smithsonian gallery will screen three 'Zilla flicks and host discussions on the infamous giant lizard with film scholar David Wilt.  Films will be shown in the Ring Auditorium at 7 PM. Click here for more info.  

"Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor?" Summer Cinema Series
The National Theatre is hosting a salute to Elizabeth Taylor with a free summer movie series dedicated to the legendary actress. It starts on June 22 with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Screenings, which run through August 3, are Mondays at 6:30. Though the films are free, tickets are required and will be distributed 30 minutes prior to show time. For the full lineup and more information, go here.  

VIRGINIA
Crystal Screen Summer Film Series
This year’s Crystal Screen theme is superheroes. The Monday-night films include Spiderman, Hulk, Superman, X-Men, and more. The series started on May 4 and runs through September 21. Films begin at sundown at 18th and Bell streets, across from the Crystal City Metro station. As a bonus for kids—or anyone who likes to go to bed early—there will be 3:30 PM screenings of the same movies on Wednesdays at the Crystal City Sports Pub. Go here for the full list.

Movies Under the Moon
June 24 through 28, Van Dyck Park in Fairfax will screen free movies, including Kung Fu Panda, Twilight, and Mamma Mia. Refreshments and food vendors will be on hand with goodies for purchase. Proceeds benefit Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children. Gates and food booths open at 6:30; movies begin at 8:30.

Movies Under the Stars at Shirlington Village
Wednesday nights in July, the Village at Shirlington will screen free films on Campbell Avenue in front of Guapo's. The lineup includes Shrek 3, 27 Dresses, and more. In the event of inclement weather, you can call 301-998-8395 to see if the screenings have been canceled. Films start at 8:45. Click here for details.

UPDATE: The Village at Shirlington will be hosting a jazz series instead of films this summer. Our apologies for the error. 

Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival
Rosslyn’s free summer movie series is already underway. The ’80s-themed lineup kicked off May 1 with our childhood favorite, Goonies. Screened in Gateway Park, movies are every Friday at dusk through September 4. This year’s selections include Dirty Dancing (May 15), Footloose (June 26), Pretty in Pink (August 7), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (September 4). Click here for the full schedule. 

>> Next page: More Virginia and Maryland screenings 

Starlight Cinema
Centreville’s free drive-in movie series returns for another season on Saturdays in August. The kid-friendly lineup includes Hotel for Dogs and Monsters vs. Aliens. Festivities begin at 7:30 with a pre-movie program of food, music, and children’s activities. Movies start at dark, and the gates open at 6. Screenings will be held in Centreville’s Sully District at the Trinity Office Building (5875 Trinity Pkwy.). More information is here.

MARYLAND
Bethesda Outdoor Movies: Stars on the Avenue

July 28 through August 1, you can catch free movies in downtown Bethesda. A screen will be set up at Norfolk and Auburn avenues. The roster hasn’t been announced yet, but last year’s lineup included a mix of classics—Wizard of Oz—and more recent blockbusters such as Mission Impossible. Movies start at 9. Check Bethesda.org for more information.

Columbia Lakefront Festival
Held on the lawn of the Columbia Town Center (10320 Little Patuxent Pkwy.), this free movie series will hold screenings on June 19, 22, 26, and 29, and July 3. Films include Transformers, Mamma Mia, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and more. Movies begin at dusk and will be canceled in the event of bad weather (call 410-715-3154). For more information, click here.

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
Film lovers, clear your schedule for the third week of August: The Comcast Outdoor Film Festival returns to Strathmore for a week of free movies. They include recent hits such as The Dark Knight (August 15) and Slumdog Millionaire (August 20) plus Kung Fu Panda (August 16) and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (August 21) for the kids. The event is free, but donations to NIH children’s charities will be accepted. The festival starts on August 14 and has daily screenings at 8:15 through August 21. The grounds open at 6:30. Get the full roster here.

Hopkins Summer Outdoor Films
If you’re in Baltimore on a Friday night this June or July, swing by Gilman Hall at Johns Hopkins University for live music and a free outdoor film. The series kicks off June 12 with Hairspray and wraps up July 24 with Ghostbusters. Music starts at 7:30, and the film begins just after sunset. Click here for the full lineup.

Know of a free film event not listed here? Send information to eleaman@washingtonian.com and we’ll update this list.