Whether it’s a cult classic or a summer blockbuster you’re looking for, there’s an outdoor cinema in Melbourne that’s playing it. There are screenings on rooftops, in botanic gardens and even in double beds on a beach.
If crumbs in the bed give you the willies, then welcome to a new frontier of horror: sandy sheets. Because at the new Mov’in Bed pop-up cinema you’ll be climbing onto a mattress plonked directly on the beach.
Mov’in Bed launched in Sydney in 2016 and this summer it’ll hit Melbourne for the first time, with 150 beds decked out in pillows and blankets landing on St Kilda beach. Fittingly, the season kicks off with a screening of the giant-shark horror classic Jaws. Other films include the divisive Joker, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Jennifer Lopez-vehicle Hustlers and holiday rom-com Last Christmas.
The queen-sized beds can be configured for two or three people, and there’s a single-bed option for those who like to hog the sheets. The ticket price includes pillows, blankets and an illuminated side table. If you’d prefer to bring your own bedding and chill on the lawn, grass tickets are available too.
Tucked behind Cameo Cinemas Belgrave on a rolling lawn is Cameo Outdoor. Getting a long run on the screen this summer is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final instalment in the Skywalker saga that began with Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. Cameo will screen the film at its outdoor venue the moment it’s released – at 12.01am on the night of Wednesday December 18. The midnight show will be followed by a full week of screenings.
Elsewhere on the program you’ll find cult New Zealand director Taika Waititi’s new film Jojo Rabbit, which stars Waititi himself as an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler; Aussie filmmaker Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang; and on David Bowie’s birthday (January 8) there’ll be a screening of the classic creature-feature Labyrinth.
For the truly twisted, there’s a New Year’s Eve dress-up party and screening of the new film adaptation of Cats – check out the trailer to see what we mean. You’ve been warned.
Classic Rooftop Cinema
Following the lead of its younger sibling Lido in Hawthorn, Elsternwick’s well-loved Classic Cinemas has opened its own rooftop cinema and bar in time for summer. The newly built outdoor space has views of Port Phillip Bay and the Elsternwick skyline from four storeys up. Its inaugural rooftop program comes printed on a calendar illustrated by iconic Melbourne artist Beci Orpin and promises critically acclaimed new releases and cult classics.
First up is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, premiering on December 19, then there’s a feline-themed fiesta with a New Year’s Eve Cats screening. Greta Gerwig’s updated Little Women is scheduled for January, then throughout the month there’ll be “retro” Wednesday screenings of ’90s hits such as Shakespearean teen rom-com 10 Things I Hate About You and Spike Lee's sweltering Do the Right Thing.
After you’ve bought a burger and beer, grab yourself a deckchair on the top floor of Curtin House and settle in. As always, the Rooftop Cinema line-up this summer is broad. There's big, brash action movies such as John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; fuzzy, feel-good Christmas movies (Home Alone, Love Actually, The Muppet Christmas Carol); classics (It's a Wonderful Life, The Shawshank Redemption); and scary ones too (It Chapter Two, The Silence of the Lambs).
Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-In
At this Melbourne cinema classic you can enjoy the latest summer blockbusters from the comfort of your car (in case the weather this summer isn’t so summery). Admission is free for kids under 12, and all tickets are discounted on Mondays. There’s a retro-style diner for snacks, and you can have food delivered straight to your car using the new Coburg Drive-In app.
Lido on the Roof
The Lido Cinemas rooftop in Hawthorn is kitted out with beanbags and deckchairs for watching art-house classics, short films, big summer releases and some classic Disney flicks. You can also bring your own blankets and pillows. There’s a good selection of art-house films this year, such as Melbourne International Film Festival favourite Portrait of a Lady on Fire and The Wild Goose Lake. For some bravura filmmaking, head along to Sam Mendes’ new WWI flick 1917, which has been filmed to look like one continuous shot.
Melbourne Moonlight Cinema
Moonlight Cinema returns to the central lawn at the Botanic Gardens with a line-up of cult classics, new major releases and indies. You can bring your own food and drinks (including alcohol), but if you haven’t planned ahead there’s a fully licensed bar, food trucks and a snack bar. There’s a Gold Grass program, too, where you can be waited on from a “beanbed”, and Moonlight Cinema is pet-friendly, so bring your pooch.
Films screening include Joker, the origin story of Batman's nemesis that's dividing critics and theatregoers; the new Rian Johnson-directed, Agatha Christie-style whodunnit, Knives Out; and Ford v Ferrari, which stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale as an automotive designer and race car driver, respectively, who take on Ferrari's Italian racing team in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.
Barefoot Cinema has three screens – at Portsea, Mount Martha and Rippon Lea Estate. Think sunsets, live music and a line-up of classics and recent hits, including Gremlins, Rocketman and Ad Astra. In partnership with Melbourne Queer Film Festival, it will present a special screening of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at Rippon Lea Estate on Saturday, February 15. The event will also feature an early glimpse at MQFF’s 2020 program.
The Dromana Drive-In opened in 1962 and still has its classic retro vibe. Before the movie, slide into a vinyl booth for burgers and thickshakes at Shel’s Diner. There’s 1950s music on the jukebox, the perfect pre-film entertainment. New releases films include Charlie's Angels and Zombieland: Double Tap.
Across two locations (at Yarra Park in East Melbourne and St Kilda Beach), Melbourne Openair Cinema’s 2020 season includes Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor whose career is stalling and Brad Pitt as his stunt double in a story set against the backdrop of the 1969 Manson family murders. There’ll also be big muscles and even bigger explosions in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, starring the Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham, as well as Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin and CGI remake of The Lion King, and a screening of The Australian Dream, the essential new documentary by journalist Stan Grant exploring the racial abuse of AFL footballer Adam Goodes.
Carlton Christmas Cinema
This one is for the truly festive folk. Argyle Square will be transformed for its Christmas festival, which includes a pop-up movie screen. It'll be playing holiday classics exclusively – such as The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Nightmare before Christmas, The Holiday and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Beforehand, you might as well try one of Carlton's best restaurants for a bite.