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Here's where to watch movies outside this summer in Erie, Niagara counties

Summer in Buffalo is a time for concerts, festivals and, with increasing frequency, outdoor movies. Lots and lots of outdoor movies.

Most (not all) are family oriented and free. All offer a chance to experience cinema under the stars, a rare treat in an area with four seasons.

Whether you reside in the Northtowns, the Southtowns, the city or someplace between, you’ll find plenty of options, including a few one-offs. Always wanted to see a “Star Wars” film at Artpark? Here’s your chance.

As you prepare to pack up the family for some outdoor movies, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Come prepared. Bring blankets, chairs and snacks. Some series offer concessions, so bring cash as well. Don’t forget the bug spray and hand sanitizer. And mentally prepare for the port-a-potty experience.

Are your kids tired by 8 or 9 p.m.? Maybe outdoor movies are not for them. Screenings start at dusk or later. If it’s difficult for the little ones to stay awake when watching an evening movie at home, seeing one in public won’t be any easier. Consider the Transit Drive-In instead. And wherever you end up, find out the running time beforehand.

Dive into drive-in culture at classic venues in Lockport, Middleport

There’s no shame in leaving early. Look at the free family film schedules and you’ll see some repetition. Movies like “Coco,” “Peter Rabbit” and “Paddington 2” pop up on several lists. There’s also a good chance you have them at home. If the kids grow restless, don’t push it. Pack up and get thee to the minivan.

Watch for rain locations. Many series on the list feature secondary locations in case of rain. Make note of those and of the series that don’t have backup spots.

Let the kids take a crack at selecting what to see. Look at all the series, narrow them down and give the kiddos a list with options – different movies at different locations. This way, you won’t end up at something you’re desperate to avoid. Plus, the kids will feel like they’ve made the decision.

Watch for pre-film activities. The film series at Canalside and on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls offer neat things for kids to do before the film begins. If no activities are scheduled, bring toys, books or electronic devices.

Schedule your night in advance. Think the crowd will be large? Best to come early. And remember to account for parking and walking, depending on the site.

Note that not every movie or series is for kids: Retro Movie Tuesdays at the Transit Drive-In offer some kid-friendly selections and many that are not. This series also charges admission, since it’s held at the drive-in. The same is true of the University at Buffalo’s summer series. Do not bring your 6-year-old to “Deadpool 2,” OK?

— Christopher Schobert

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Where to go for outdoor movies

Movies are free unless noted. Many of these events are geared toward families and may be smoke- and alcohol-free.

Canalside

Tuesday Movie Series at Canalside. Free. Movies start at 6 p.m.

  • July 10: “Ferdinand”
  • July 17: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
  • July 24: “Elf”
  • July 31: “The Lego Ninjago Movie”
  • Aug. 7: “Coco”
  • Aug. 14: “The Wizard Of Oz”
  • Aug. 21: “The Greatest Showman”
  • Aug. 28: “Boss Baby”

Cazenovia Park

Family Movie Night. Free. Movies start at dusk.

  • July 27: “The Sandlot”
  • Aug. 17: “Antz”

Delaware Park

Family Movie Night at Shakespeare Hill. Free. Starts at dusk.

  • Aug. 6: “Madagascar”
  • Aug. 20: “Secret Life of Pets”

Movies in the Meadow. Delaware Park behind the Parkside Lodge (84 Parkside Ave.). Free. Starts at dusk.

  • July 27: “The Lost Boys of South Sudan” with Journeys End Refugee Services
  • Aug. 3: “Incredibles”
  • Aug. 10: “Marshall”
  • Aug. 17: “A League of Their Own”
  • Aug. 24: “Roman Holiday”
  • Aug. 31: “Black Panther”

Chestnut Ridge Park. 6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park. Free with free-will donations accepted. Rain location is the park Casino.

  • Aug. 25: “Shrek” (8:15 p.m.)
  • Sept. 14: “The Lion King” (7:30 p.m.)

The animated family musical "Coco" will be shown at multiple outdoor summer movie series. (Disney-Pixar)

Green Acres Ice Cream

Outdoor Family Night and Kids Pajama Party. 4357 Broadway, Depew; greenacresicecream.com. Free. Starts at dusk. Ice cream sold.

  • July 11: “Ferdinand”
  • July 18: “Coco”
  • July 25: “Despicable Me 3”
  • Aug. 1: “Captain Underpants”
  • Aug. 8: “Paddington 2”
  • Aug. 15: “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature”

Town of Amherst

Youth & Recreation Department. Free. Movies are shown at three parks. July movies start at 9 p.m.; August movies start at 8:30 p.m. amherstyouthandrec.org.

  • July 6: “Despicable Me 3,” Bassett Park (rain site: Clearfield)
  • July 13: “Jumanji – Welcome to the Jungle,” Bassett Park (rain site: Clearfield)
  • July 20: “Coco,” Island Park (rain site: Meeting House)
  • July 27: “Paddington 2,” Willow Ridge Park (Willow Ridge Elementary School)
  • Aug. 10: “Wonder,” Bassett Park (rain site: Clearfield)
  • Aug. 17: “Sherlock Gnomes,” Bassett Park (rain site: Clearfield)
  • Aug. 24: “Beauty and the Beast,” Island Park (rain site: Meeting House)

Locations: Bassett Park, 359 Klein Road, Williamsville; Island Park, 5577 Main St., Williamsville; Clearfield, 730 Hopkins Road, Williamsville; Williamsville Meeting House, 5658 Main St., Williamsville; Willow Ridge Park & Elementary School, 480 Willow Ridge Drive, Amherst.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" will be shown at the University at Buffalo. (Disney, Lucasfilm)

University at Buffalo

Free. Movies start at 9:15 p.m. (June), 9 p.m. (July), and 8:45 p.m. (August). Monday and Friday screenings are near the Student Union, UB North Campus, Amherst; Wednesday movies are on the Hayes Hall Lawn, UB South Campus.

  • June 18, 20, 22: “Super Troopers 2”
  • June 25, 27, 29: “The Post”
  • July 2, 6: “Love Simon” (no movie on July 4)
  • July 9, 11, 13: “Black Panther”
  • July 16, 18, 20: “A Quiet Place”
  • July 23, 25, 27: “Deadpool 2”
  • July 30 and Aug. 1 and 3: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
  • Aug. 6, 8, 10: “Isle of Dogs”
  • Aug. 13, 15, 17: “Ready Player One”
  • Aug. 20, 22, 24: “Avengers: Infinity War”

Rain location for the North Campus screenings is 112 Norton Hall (except on Aug. 20, which would move to the Student Union Theater, on Aug. 24, with a location TBA). The South Campus rain location is 146 Diefendorf Hall. Visit sa.buffalo.edu/summerfilms

Niagara County

Artpark

Free Family Movie Nights. Artpark, 450 S. 4th St., Lewiston; artpark.net. Free films and parking; movies shown on Jumbotron. Light concessions sold.

  • Aug. 13: “Coco”
  • Aug. 20: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

 

Old Falls Street

Thursday Flicks On Old Falls Movie Series. Old Falls Street (Middle Block Commons area), Niagara Falls. Free. Activities start at 7:30 p.m., movies start about 8:30 p.m. (around sunset). Snacks and beverages sold. fallsstreet.com.

  • June 28: “Beauty and the Beast”
  • July 5: “An American Tale”
  • July 12: “The Emoji Movie”
  • July 19: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”
  • July 26: “Coco”
  • Aug. 2: “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”
  • Aug. 9: “Peter Rabbit”
  • Aug. 16: “Sherlock Gnomes”
  • Aug. 23: “Wonder”
  • Aug. 30: “Early Man”

 

Transit Drive-In

Retro Tuesdays. Transit Drive-In, 6655 S. Transit Road, Lockport.; 625-8535 or transitdrivein.com. Movies start at about 9 p.m. Admisson is $9 adults, $4 ages 5 to 11 p.m. Children 4 and younger are admitted free.

  • July 3: “Top Gun” and “The Fast and the Furious”
  • July 10: “Slap Shot” and “Youngblood”
  • July 17: “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Young Frankenstein”
  • July 24: “A Christmas Story” and “Elf”
  • July 31: “The Wizard of Oz” and “Twister”
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