Free Outdoor Movies Toronto

Free outdoor movies in Toronto summer 2012

A list of free outdoor movies in Toronto this summer.

Ye asked and ye shall receive. Free outdoor movies are a beloved Toronto tradition that just seems to get better each year. Along with popular destinations like Yonge-Dundas Square and Harbourfront, the Sail-In Cinema is set to return to the Corus Quay area in August (though a concrete schedule hasn't been released yet). Some weeks this summer you'll be able to catch four to five films under the stars if you're so inclined. So, we're spoiled for choice. Here's an overview of the key screenings taking place this year, conveniently collected together in one place.

City Cinema: Cult Classics at Yonge & Dundas Square
Location: South East Corner of Yonge & Dundas

Yonge & Dundas Square is one of the best and worst places for a free summer flick. In its earliest days, the square wasn't as back-lit by ads as it is now, and despite being smack in the middle of the city, it was still spacious during screenings. As the popularity of the program has increased, the square tends to fill with sweltering people on movie nights, which can get a bit claustrophobic. On the bright side, the films are set to be better. After sub-par programming the last few years, YDS goes back to the basics, with cult classics we all know and love. So while it's not the most interesting lineup, if we can't hear parts of dialogue due to sirens, it won't really matter.

Screenings start around sunset, which is something to keep in mind as the days grow shorter. Also worthy of note is the early start on August 14th to accommodate a double bill.

Tuesday, June 26th - 9 p.m. - The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Tuesday, July 3 - 9 p.m. - Dazed and Confused
Tuesday, July 10 - 9 p.m. - Harold and Maude
Tuesday, July 17 - 9 p.m. - Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Tuesday, July 24 - 9 p.m. - The Big Lebowski
Tuesday, July 31 - 8:30 p.m. - Do the Right Thing
Tuesday, August 14 - 7:30 p.m. - The Princess Bride
Tuesday, August 14 - 9:15 p.m. - Labyrinth
Tuesday, August 21 - 8 p.m. - Brazil
Tuesday, August 28 - 8 p.m. - Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Free Flicks: Rise of the Underdog
Location: Lower Simcoe St & Queens Quay, Harbourfront Centre

I don't think it's a coincidence that the Harbourfront film program this summer is celebrating the underdog. This under-appreciated film series has been running almost as long as the one at Yonge-Dundas Square and yet gets a fraction of the attention, despite its fantastic lake-side atmosphere. Maybe this year the underdog will prevail? People are certainly fed up with the sound at YDS.

You can also vote for your favourite film for the audience choice screening on August 29. Currently the poll is super close between The Karate Kid and Billy Elliot, so go vote now!

Wednesday, July 4 - 9 p.m. - Office Space
Wednesday, July 11 - 9 p.m. - Zoolander
Wednesday, July 18 - 9 p.m. - When We Were Kings
Wednesday, July 25 - 9 p.m. - Napoleon Dynamite
Wednesday, August 1 - 9 p.m. - The Social Network
Wednesday, August 8 - 9 p.m. - Whip It
Wednesday, August 15 - 9 p.m. - Whale Rider
Wednesday, August 22 - 8:40 p.m. - Moneyball
Wednesday, August 29 - 8:50 p.m. - Audience Choice

TIFF In the Park: Screwball Comedies
Location: King & Simcoe, David Pecaut Square

TIFF in the Park decided to tease me all summer by playing every single one of my favourite screwball comedies (with the GLARING exception of Bringing up Baby) for free at David Pecaut Square. Despite the omission, I'm falling for this program hook, line, and sinker because it's featuring some real gems and isn't just the obvious favourites. Hang out and laugh along to some of Hollywood's best comedic actors in films that they're still trying to replicate today.

Wednesday, June 27 - 9:15 p.m. - Trouble in Paradise
Wednesday, July 4 - 9:15 p.m. - My Man Godfrey
Wednesday, July 11 - 9:15 p.m. - The Palm Beach Story
Wednesday, July 18 - 9:15 p.m. - Raising Arizona
Wednesday, July 25 - 9:15 p.m. - His Girl Friday
Wednesday, August 1 - 9 p.m. - Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Wednesday, August 8 - 9 p.m. - The Philadelphia Story
Wednesday, August 15 - 9 p.m. - What's Up, Doc?
Wednesday, August 22 - 8:30 p.m. - The Lady Eve
Wednesday, August 29 - 8:30 p.m. - It Happened One Night

Movies Under the Stars at Downsview Park
Location: Keele St & Sheppard Ave W, Downsview Park Map

Downsview Park's Movies Under the Stars is a kid-friendly series, but that won't stop adults from enjoying a guilty pleasure or two. May I suggest E.T. & Puss in Boots? Screenings start at sunset/approximately 9 p.m., and they have free parking if you don't live nearby. I'd advise that you bring your own folding chair/blanket as the venue itself is a parking lot (it might be a good idea to pack some mosquito repellent as well).

All screenings will take place at the location listed above except June 29th's screening which takes place by The Event Centre beside 35 Carl Hall Rd.

Friday, June 29 - 9 p.m. - Dr. Seuss: The Lorax
Friday, July 6 - 9 p.m. - The Adventures of Tin Tin
Friday, July 13 - 9 p.m. - Hugo
Friday, July 20 - 9 p.m. - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Friday, July 27 - 9 p.m. - Pirates! Band of Misfits
Friday, August 3 - 9 p.m. - Avatar
Friday, August 10 - 9 p.m. - The Muppets
Friday, August 17 - 9 p.m. - Winnie the Pooh
Friday, August 24 - 9 p.m. - Puss in Boots
Friday, August 31 - 9 p.m. - Dolphin Tale

Movies in the Park - Riverdale Park East
Location: 550 Broadview Ave (map)

Riverdale Movies in the Park is a smaller but much appreciated summer series dedicated to family-friendly PG rated screenings, and this year they're bringing it back to the '80s! Films start at dusk like every other series, so bring some food, a blanket, a friend and get settled in for Sunday Night at the Movies...outside! Nostalgia awaits!

Sunday, July 8 - 9 p.m. - Ghostbusters
Sunday, July 22 - 9 p.m. - Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark
Sunday, August 5 - 8:30 p.m. - Back to the Future
Sunday, August 19 - 8 p.m. - The Princess Bride

Backyard Cinema at the 519 Church St Community Centre
Location: 519 Church St Community Centre

The 519 Church St Community Centre is known for creating free, open and accessible programming for people of all ages. The Green Space not only features free summer movies but also summer family dance classes for parents and children 5-12 on Saturday afternoons and free yoga Saturday mornings, so if you play your cards right, you can hang out in the park all day long.

Saturday, July 7 - Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Saturday, July 21 - To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar
Saturday, August 4 - Touch of Pink
Saturday, August 18 - E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Saturday, August 25 - Up

And lastly, though it's not free, the Open Roof Film Festival runs screenings outdoors every week at the Amsterdam Brewery. Films are $15, include a concert before the film and it's a licensed venue. So if you save enough money by seeing all these free films, you can splurge once or twice.

If you know of any other free summer film screening series we missed, please let us know in the comment section.

Photo by Tony Chen in the blogTO Flickr pool

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